After 17 years as artistic director of CT's Hartford Stage Company, artistic director Mark Lamos will leave his post, Dec. 1997, "to pursue a directing career in theatre and opera." He'll become a resident artist at Hartford Stage and continue to direct productions there.
Hartford Stage President Thomas D. Lips announced that a Board of Directors Committee has already been formed to search internationally for Lamos' replacement. "We respect Mark's desire to devote all his energies to artistic projects. In effect, we are announcing an evolution, a transition, but not a departure."
As a way of coming full circle, Lamos will stage Shakespeare's Cymbeline as part of his final season -- a show he directed in his first season, 1980. Also on tap for 1997-98, Hartford Stage favorite Richard Thomas will star in a Lamos-directed Tiny Alice. (Thomas appeared in 1989's acclaimed Peer Gynt).
Said Lamos, who will direct at least one production at Hartford in 1998 99, "The decision [to step down] was difficult, since Hartford Stage has been my artistic home for nearly two decades. We have a family of theatre artists, drawn from the best in the world, who regularly come to Hartford to create great theatre here. [But] I have come to a point in my career when I want to be directing all the time. The challenges confronting the performing arts are serious and require more attention, frankly, than they did when I started here 17 years ago."
Lamos' directorial assignments at Hartford Stage have included: 1980-90: Distant Fires, On The Verge, The Great Magoo, Anatol, Peer Gynt, Hamlet and Morocco. 1991-Present: Our Country's Good, Martin Guerre (a third musical version), A Dybbuk, The Rivals and The Master Builder. His most recent assignment was the musical revue, The Gershwins' Fascinating Rhythm. Lamos made his feature film directing debut with Longtime Companion, and his stage production of Our Country's Good transferred to Broadway. It was his idea to pair March Of The Falsettos and Falsettoland as a single evening, though the Hartford Stage production (directed by Graciela Daniele) didn't reach New York.
Honors for Lamos included Hartford Stage winning the 1989 regional theatre Tony, and the Lucille Lortel Award for best revival for his 1989 Measure For Measure at Lincoln Center. He's also worked at NYC Opera, Dallas Opera, Sweden's Stora Theatre and Santa Fe Opera. His current opera projects include "Madama Butterfly" for Glimmerglass Opera, "Rigoletto" for San Francisco Opera, Benjamin Britten's "Paul Bunyan" for City Opera, and "La Finta" for the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Founded in 1964, Hartford Stage's previous artistic directors were Jacques Cartier (1964-1968), who specialized in the classics, and Paul Weidner (1968-1980), who specialized in new American and British plays.
Lamos' resignation makes for a busy transitional year in Connecticut theatre, since the Long Wharf's artistic director of 30 years, Arvin Brown, steps down in June, his duties then going to Douglas Hughes.
--By David Lefkowitz