Since Lou Tyrrell stepped down from his position as artistic director of Theatre Arts Garage in March, the South Florida theater scene has been abuzz about who exactly would—and could—replace him. Tyrrell guided the arts organization through its infancy and forged a respected program that fostered playwrights and celebrated new works. As the saying goes, he left a hefty set of shoes to fill.
Last week, the administration at Arts Garage heralded a new chapter by appointing two individuals with deep roots in the SoFlo arts world to run its theater. Keith Garsson, formerly of the Fort Lauderdale–based Primal Forces theater group and the Boca Raton Theater Guild, will become the new producing director, and Genie Croft, of the recently deceased Women’s Theatre Project, will join Garsson as resident director.
|Genie Croft and Keith Garsson with Arts Garage President and CEO Alyona Ushe.|
While Tyrrell focused on producing new works that touched upon a variety of themes and topics, Garsson and Croft’s Theatre Arts Garage will highlight edgier, darker material. The duo will continue to make use of the main Arts Garage stage, but will also produce works in a new, even more intimate black box.
Croft comes to Arts Garage from the Women’s Theatre Project, a Boca Raton group that explored female voices on the stage for more than a decade before closing this past February. During her tenure as artistic director and president, Croft directed all of their main-stage productions, which included many world premieres.
Garsson’s experience extends to New York City, where he worked as the production chairman at the off-Broadway St. Bart’s Playhouse. In South Florida, he guided the Boca Raton Theater Guild as it became a professional company and produced popular rep including Sylvia, Chicago, and Other People’s Money along the way. Garsson was the artistic director of the edgy Primal Forces, which will be absorbed by the Arts Garage theater program.
“The dark-themed material of Primal Forces is a natural fit for the off-Broadway feel of Arts Garage,” Garsson says in a statement. Croft adds: “The move to the Arts Garage will allow us to unleash new artistic visions as we create imaginative and throught-provoking plays and musicals.”
The 2015-16 season, the first under this new leadership, will kick off in October and will include a combination of plays and musicals. The comedy Sex with Strangers is by House of Cards writer Laura Eason and will run on the main stage from October 24 to November 15. Reborning, a psychological thriller by playwright Zayd Dohrn, will occupy the black box from January 23 to February 14. The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith is being described as the Theatre Arts Garage’s own home-grown interpretation of the musical by Angelo Parra and Joe Brancato; it will be staged from February 27 to March 20. The season will close out with Kim Davies’ Smoke, another black-box thriller, from March 26 to April 17. To learn more about Theatre Arts Garage visit artsgarage.org