Arts & Theater

Capital Stage names new artistic director, 2015-16 play series

jvillegas@sacbee.com

In revealing its upcoming 2015-16 season, Capital Stage also announced Sunday that Michael Stevenson, a respected Sacramento-based director and actor, will become its new producing artistic director.

Stevenson, who has been in Alaska directing “The Odd Couple” for Perseverance Theatre on Douglas Island, said he was “thrilled” to become an integral part of Capital Stage’s future. “I have a very clear idea of where I want to the theater to go,” Stevenson said.

Stevenson has had a consistent artistic presence at Capital Stage, having directed six productions and acted with the company since its first season.

A longtime B Street Theatre company member, he’s also directed and performed in a range of Sacramento’s professional theaters over the last five years. His directing credits at Sacramento Theatre Company include “Of Mice And Men,” “Pride and Prejudice” and this year’s “The Grapes of Wrath.” He’s performed at Music Circus and with New Helvetia Theatre and last year traveled to India with the B Street Theatre production of “Around the World in 80 Days.” With his wife, actress Jamie Jones, Stevenson has been director of the B Street Theatre Conservatory.

Starting its 11th season, Capital Stage has become a mainstay of the region’s performing arts presenters, with about 1,800 subscribers and an annual operating budget of about $810,000. The company, which financed and built its owning performing space on J Street in midtown Sacramento, has earned a reputation for cutting-edge theater.

That was under the leadership of its founders Stephanie Gularte, Jonathan Williams and Peter Mohrmann. Gularte, who was Capital Stage’s producing artistic director and the company’s longtime public face, stepped down two years ago. After a national search, Williams, Gularte’s husband, emerged as her replacement.

In January, Gularte was named artistic director of American Stage Theatre Company in St. Petersburg, Fla., and Williams announced his plans to join her. Stevenson was chosen as Williams’ replacement after a nationwide search.

“The bottom line is Michael just absolutely won this position,” Williams said. “He came in well prepared, very forward thinking, with great ideas for what he envisions for Capital Stage in the future.”

Stevenson will start May 1 as Capital Stage’s associate artistic director and work with Williams, who will stay on through the summer. Stevenson will assume the producing artistic director position on Sept. 1.

“I’ve been a part of Capital Stage for 10 years now and grown up with Jon, Steph and Peter,” Stevenson said. “It’s a real honor to pick up their vision and go forward with it.”

Capital Stage board president Clif McFarland said Stevenson impressed the interview committee in both his interviews. “He was energetic, knowledgeable, passionate. He really wanted this opportunity,” McFarland said. “After we went through the process, we thought he was the absolute clear choice.”

The company has grown and changed in the two years since Gularte announced she was leaving.

“We increased full-time staff, subscription sales, ticket sales and donations,” McFarland said. “Jonathan’s been able to build a stronger infrastructure than the one he inherited. So Michael gets to step into that.”

Call The Bee’s Marcus Crowder, (916) 321-1120. Follow him on Twitter @marcuscrowder.

Capital Stage’s 2015-16 lineup

“Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play” by Anne Washburn (Sept. 7-Oct. 4; Sacramento premiere)

“A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen, adapted by Stephanie Gularte (Oct. 21-Nov. 22)

“The Behavior of Broadus” by The Burglars of Hamm (special limited engagement TBA in December)

“Love and Information” by Caryl Churchill (Jan. 27-Feb. 28; Sacramento premiere)

“Blackberry Winter” by Steve Yockey, National New Play Network’s Rolling World Premiere (March 16-April 17, 2016)

“Disgraced” by Ayad Akhtar, winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for drama (May 4-June 5, 2016; Sacramento premiere)

“The Totalitarians” by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb (June 22-July 24, 2016; Sacramento premiere)

Details: Online at capstage.org or call the box office at (916) 995-5464

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