When La Jolla Playhouse's new artistic director, Anne Hamburger, announced her departure for Disney at the end of 2000, the San Diego company looked to their first AD and two-time Tony Award winner, Des McAnuff, to serve as interim artistic director. On March 12, McAnuff announced that he would resume the role of artistic director for the coming seasons.
McAnuff planned the 2001 season, which features the world premieres of the new Frank Wildhorn show, The Musical Dracula, Michael Ondaatje's The Collected Works of Billy the Kid and Annie Weisman's Be Aggressive. The director of Big River, The Who's Tommy and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying will also direct The Musical Dracula.
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 remained in charge of season 2000 until her departure Oct. 15, 2000. Named AD of the La Jolla Playhouse in July 1999, she recently assumed the role of Executive Vice President of Creative Entertainment for Disney's theme parks and resorts. Along with McAnuff, La Jolla Playhouse also adds Carrie Ryan as literary manager, Shirley Fishman as dramaturg and Kate Whoriskey as associate director to the staff. Ryan comes to La Jolla from the Wilma Theatre in Philadelphia where she served as dramaturg on such productions as The Invention of Love and Robert William Sherwood's Spin. Fishman is a veteran of New York's Joseph Papp Public Theater, where she worked on Dogeaters, Two Sisters and a Piano, Space, The Ride Down Mount Morgan and Everybody's Ruby. Whoriskey, who will co-direct the Playhouse's The Collected Works of Billy the Kid with McAnuff, was named one of Vogue's "Women to Watch" and worked under Robert Wilson, Robert Woodruff and Anne Bogart.
— By Christine Ehren