Will Trice Named New Executive Artist Director for Arkansas Rep

by Stage Directions
Will Trice
Will Trice

Arkansas Repertory Theatre announced 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. Trice joins The Rep, which is focused on re-building and towards its Next Act.

“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 theater 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, staring 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 theater-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 theater – 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."

The 2019 Season and the Next Act
The 2019 season opens February 20 with Chicago and the 2019 season also includes productions of 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.

After the April 24, 2018 announcement of suspending operations, the Arkansas Rep has reorganized and gotten significant financial help. They have created the Next Act campaign, which shifted from ‘Save the Rep’ to ‘Rebuild the Rep’. “Interest in The Rep has never been higher,” said Shepherd.  “Throughout the past few months, we have been reminded daily that our community values The Rep as a unique and critical element of the Central Arkansas performing arts scene.”

Since the April 24 announcement, The Rep has received more than $692,000 in gifts and pledges that have been doubled as a result of matching grants from the John & Robyn Horn Foundation and the Windgate Charitable Foundation. “Our audiences have stepped up and answered the call to help us ‘Save The Rep,’” said Shepherd, referring to the grassroots and community-based fundraising. “We could not be more grateful, but the crisis is not entirely over just yet. With the generosity and support of our audiences, we have thankfully saved the theatre, but now it’s time for us to transition that same enthusiasm and commitment into efforts to ‘Rebuild the Rep.’”

According to Shepherd, the theatre’s board of directors is still working to raise an additional $1.2 million as part of its ongoing Our Next Act campaign to help The Rep rebound and move forward on firm financial ground. Completion of this campaign will allow the theatre to establish operating and facilities reserve funds, and the Cliff Fannin Baker Artistic Director’s fund, while also retiring all remaining property debt. At the same time, The Rep is raising operating funds for the 2019 season.

Charitable gifts account for approximately 45 percent of the theater’s annual budget, with the remainder of its income provided by combined proceeds of ticket sales, concessions, rentals, and educational programming. “Subscribers who commit to the entire season will be particularly important to The Rep this year as we work to continue providing theatre that is professional, affordable and sustainable,” said Bill Rector, board member and interim general manager.

Further information from The Arkansas Repertory Theatre: www.TheRep.org