When La Jolla Playhouse's new artistic director, Anne Hamburger, announced her departure for Disney at the end of 2000, the theatre must have felt a moment of panic. That moment has dissipated quickly with the confirmation that the revived theatre's first AD and two-time Tony Award winner, Des McAnuff, will serve as interim artistic director. McAnuff takes his place as artistic director immediately, setting down to plan the 2001 season. The director of Big River, The Who's Tommy and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying will also direct one or more productions in the 2001 season.
McAnuff first came to La Jolla in 1982 when the theatre, originally founded by Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer, was being revived. McAnuff served from the first opening June 24, 1983 through 1994 when he left the company to pursue film work. Since then, he has directed the films "Cousin Bette" and "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" and produced the animated film, "The Iron Giant."
Under his watch, the La Jolla Playhouse won the 1993 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Production on his first term included How to Succeed, Tommy, Fortinbras, Elmer Gantry, A Walk in the Woods, Shout Up a Morning and Big River, as well as many classics from Shakespeare and Chekhov.
Hamburger remains in charge of season 2000 until her departure Oct. 15. Named AD of the La Jolla Playhouse in July 1999, she now becomes the Executive Vice President of Creative Entertainment for Disney's theme parks and resorts.
-- By Christine Ehren