New leader, classic shows
Matt K. Miller takes the reins at STC
Sacramento, CA 95814
Meet the new boss. Not the same as the old boss.
Longtime Sacramento Theatre Company artistic director Peggy Shannon departed in June, and the STC board tapped Matt K. Miller, a leading man in many of the past decade’s STC productions, as Shannon’s interim successor. A company member since 2003, Miller certainly understands how STC operates. He’s a popular face with audiences, and he basically has the 2010-11 season to prove he deserves the job on a permanent basis.
Miller takes the reins as STC is shifting the focus to classics, particularly for main-stage productions. He’s convinced that it’s the right move at the right time.
“I’ve been here long enough to know the tastes of our subscribers, and our position in the marketplace,” he said. “No other professional theater in a 50-mile radius is doing the classics.”
“The classics are part of our 68-year history as a company,” he said. “It’s the aesthetic that the theater should have and really has had for most of the company’s history.”
The season opens with Oscar Wilde’s vintage comedy of manners, The Importance of Being Earnest, which runs October 6-31.
“The last time STC staged Earnest was 1951,” said Miller, who’s been doing some research. Of course, back then STC was a community theater group. The upcoming STC production could be the first time that Earnest has been mounted locally by an Equity company, although numerous community productions attest to the play’s ongoing popularity.
“And did you know that Oscar Wilde lectured in Sacramento in April 1882?” Miller asked. “He spoke at the Congregationalist Church, which was on Sixth Street at the time.”
The season will also include the first STC production of Lanford Wilson’s durable two-hander Talley’s Folly (1979); Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs (1983); a Sherlock Holmes mystery; a puckish Broadway homage called The Musical of Musicals; and the one-woman show about poet Emily Dickinson, The Belle of Amherst (1976). It will also feature STC’s holiday production of A Christmas Carol, adapted by writer Richard Hellesen and the late composer David de Berry, which has been a company staple for decades.
“Our subscription renewal rate is 90 percent,” Miller boasted. “We’ve already surpassed the number of subscriptions we had last year. Financially, we are on a much better footing.”
STC has repositioned itself before. The company organized with community actors in the 1940s, doing shows for World War II servicemen at three local military bases, which then dominated the economy.
As the area grew, STC gradually became a professional company. But since the launch of California Musical Theatre’s Broadway Sacramento series in 1989 (featuring touring musicals), the B Street Theatre in 1991 (largely new works) and Capital Stage in 2004 (more—and edgier—new works), STC has had to compete for a slice of the professional theater pie—some years more successfully than others, especially during the recession.
“It’s a matter of putting on exciting, quality productions, so that there is a buzz about the place. We’re going to put on good programming, and deliver the goods,” he said.