Australian native Edwards, currently the associate artistic director at Syracuse Stage, takes over after Millman retires at the end of the 2005-2006 season. Millman has been at the helm of the resident Equity theatre for 10 years, following serving as managing director from 1968-1980.
"Edwards' tenure with the Asolo will commence during the fall, as he will be in Sarasota to observe and participate in our community while planning his first season," according to a May 18 announcement. "Effective July 1, 2006, Edwards will begin his full-time tenure."
Of his successor, Howard Millman said in a statement: "What pleases me most about Michael is his breadth of experience as a director and his understanding and appreciation of the Asolo's history and mission. Michael has worked in a rotating repertory environment. I am confident that he will build upon the Asolo's strong foundation and rich history while infusing the organization with his energy and creative vision, taking the theatre in new and exciting directions. I can only hope that he will be as fulfilled by his experience at the Asolo as I have been with mine."
Incoming president of the Asolo board of directors Nancy Markle said: "We performed an extensive international search and we believe we have found someone of preeminent stature and success. Michael Edwards is a distinguished director who has worked on four continents. He has directed Aida at the Metropolitan Opera, Eugene Onegin at the Sydney Opera House, Othello at the Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Turn of the Screw for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Enter the Guardsman at the San Diego Globe, Amadeus at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, Copenhagen for Syracuse Stage, and The White Devil for the Academy of Classical Acting at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C.; just a few examples of his virtuosity and experience. And he brings charisma and excitement to Asolo theatregoers."
Edwards earned his BA with Honors from Monash University in Australia and his MFA from University of California at Los Angeles. He served for 16 years as professor of theatre arts, assistant and associate professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He went on to spend six years as artistic director of Shakespeare Santa Cruz in California "where he significantly increased audiences and more than doubled the budget during his tenure." Since 2001, he has been associate artistic director at Syracuse Stage in upstate New York. During this time he has worked in all areas of the theatre and directed several productions including a number of co-productions with other LORT theatres.
At Asolo, he directed the highly successful production of The Smell of the Kill.
In a statement, Edwards said, "I am deeply honored to be asked to take the helm of such a prestigious and well loved theatre. It has been a privilege to meet all the many devoted and talented players at the Asolo from the board to the staff, the acting company, the Conservatory, and the community. I very much look forward to forging vigorous and rewarding partnerships with them all."
Asolo is a rare American resident company presenting its season in rotating repertory fashion. Visit www.asolo.org.