Nicholson, who served as the Director of New Works at the California-based company that produces both in Palo Alto and Mountain View, will begin his transition into the position throughout the winter and will officially assume his duties in March 2009. Nicholson replaces Christie Evangelisto, who recently departed the Playwrights position.
Nicholson's departure from TheatreWorks comes on the heels of Playwrights Horizons being named the recipient of a $2 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Playwrights Horizons is using the grant to create a fund to develop new musicals in partnership with non-profit regional theatres. The aim is to commission and develop at least four new musicals and to produce three or four full-scale productions.
For TheatreWorks, Nicholson oversaw the development of new musicals, establishing the New Works Festival and Writers Retreat Programs that gave life to such productions as Emma, Memphis, Vanities, Summer of '42, Striking Twelve, Kept, Everything's Ducky and A Little Princess.
"This is in many ways a natural transition point. My replacement at TheatreWorks will be able to take ownership of an expanded New Works Festival in the spring of 2009 and plans that are afoot for an even larger Festival next season, and bring his or her own ideas to this program's growth," Nicholson said in a statement.
Nicholson will assist TheatreWorks in a national search for his replacement. A board member of the National Alliance for Musical Theater, Nicholson directed the Off-Broadway production of Liz Duffy Adams' Wet and Adam Bock's Five Flights. He has directed the West Coast premieres of The Good German by David Wiltse and Small Tragedy by Craig Lucas, and the world premiere of We Are Not These Hands by Sheila Callaghan. Nicholson also served as associate artistic director of the Magic Theatre in San Francisco and as producing director for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival.