Will Trice, a Little Rock native and Tony-winning New York producer, has been named to lead the revival of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. He’s the new executive artistic director.
Trice’s interest in the job had been rumored for some time, but it firmed up last night, with a late-night news release from the Rep. The theater canceled this year’s season because of financial difficulties but after a fund-raising campaign has announced a new season for next year and a plan to build toward the excellence it achieved in its founding by the late Cliff Baker and then under the long tenure of Bob Hupp.
Arkansas Repertory Theatre announced today that William Trice has been named the theatre’s new executive artistic director. Trice, a Little Rock native, has served as Broadway producer in New York since 2010, producing work that has earned him three Tony Awards and five nominations.
“After the year we’ve been through with suspending productions and re-evaluating our entire operations, we’re thrilled to have Will join our team,” said Ruth Shepherd, The Rep’s board chair. “He is uniquely positioned with his vast experience and ties to central Arkansas to lead at this specific point in The Rep’s history.”
As executive artistic director, a newly-created position, Trice will be responsible for management and budgeting in addition to providing the artistic vision. He assumes his new role officially in August but has been serving as a consultant since December.
“I couldn’t be more excited to join The Rep’s staff, board, supporters, and audiences, as we continue its rich tradition of entertaining and inspiring theatre in Arkansas,” Trice said. “The way this organization has rallied over the past year shows how much The Rep is cherished, and it’s an honor to have a role in mapping its future.”
Trice has served as a producer for nearly 30 productions on Broadway, the West End, and National Tours. He is a three-time Tony Award Winner for All The Way, starring Bryan Cranston; the Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf; and Porgy and Bess, starring Audra McDonald. He was also nominated for five Tony awards for his work on Fiddler on the Roof; The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Wolf Hall, You Can’t Take It With You starring James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne, The Glass Menagerie starring Cherry Jones and Zachary Quinto; and Gore Vidal’s The Best Man starring John Larroquette and Candice Bergen.
Prior to his career in producing, Trice served as a business analyst with management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, an artistic administration associate with The Metropolitan Opera, and a strategic growth associate with alternative asset managers D.E. Shaw & Company. He holds degrees from Southern Methodist and Northwestern Universities.
Trice, a 1997 graduate of Central High School, began his theatre career on stages in central Arkansas. In fact, he appeared on The Rep stage in 1994 as a young actor in the production of Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers.
“The Rep taught me what it means to be a professional theatre-maker,” Trice said. “I was lucky enough to grow up in a community that values the arts and supports institutions presenting music, dance, opera, visual arts, and theatre – all with superb quality. I can’t wait to come back home and help create The Rep’s next edition of a great night out.”
Subscriptions and single tickets are on sale now for the 2019 season, which includes Chicago, Native Gardens, Million Dollar Quartet, and It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. The Rep will also present a full-scale production of Willy Wonka Jr., featuring actors ages 9-18.
Patrons may purchase tickets at TheRep.org or by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405. The Box Office is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday.
Personal notes/disclosure: The news release doesn’t mention Trice’s theater genetics. His late father, lawyer Bill Trice, and mother, Judy, are both veteran performers as actors and singers, including in the days of the Theater of the Arkansas Philharmonic, Cliff Baker’s creation that led to the establishment of the Rep in 1976. Will and my daughter, Martha, are old friends who worked in musical theater productions during his time at Central High School. And here’s a bit of trivia you won’t find anywhere else: When Will was seeking formal wear for his first time on stage at the Tony awards, I gave him a handsome madras cummerbund I’d bought years ago at Mr. Wicks for part of his ensemble. It made future appearances at the Tonys, something of a lucky charm.