Sara Garonzik to Leave Philadelphia Theatre Company

by Jacob Coakley
Sara Garonzik has led the Philadelphia Theatre Company since 1982.
Sara Garonzik has led the Philadelphia Theatre Company since 1982.

After 35 years, Sara Garonzik will leave the Philadelphia Theatre Company during the 2016-2017 season, after a replacement has been found. Under Garonzik’s stewardship, Philadelphia Theatre Company produced 30 world premieres. Garonzik also sits on the Mayor’s Cultural Advisory Council, the Advisory Boards of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, and PlayPenn, a play development organization. After she leaves PTC she will remain in Philadelphia and pursue consulting and independent producing.


After spearheading the artistic vision and organizational growth of Philadelphia Theatre Company for thirty-five years, Executive Producing Director Sara Garonzik announced to the PTC Board of Directors that she will be leaving her position sometime during the 2016-2017 season when her successor joins the Company. She will remain in Philadelphia to pursue consulting and independent producing projects.

“I have worked closely with Sara for more than ten years, particularly in the design, construction and opening of the Suzanne Roberts Theatre.  It is clear that Sara has had an indelible impact on our theatre company. With a keen eye for artistic excellence, she has been instrumental in introducing outstanding theatre artists to Philadelphia audiences. In our search for a successor we will focus on someone whose artistic sensibility, like Sara’s, will continue to position PTC at the forefront of the national theatre landscape.  Sara's legacy will continue as we will honor her as Executive Producing Director Emeritus,” said PTC’s Board Chair, E. Gerald Riesenbach.

Under Garonzik’s stewardship since 1982, PTC has established itself not only as important to Philadelphia cultural life but also as a player on the national theater scene, adhering to its mission to produce and develop new American plays and musicals. With the assistance of a dedicated staff and engaged Board Leadership, Garonzik has overseen 30 world premiere productions, many of which went on to further life in New York and theaters across the country including the Tony Award- winning Master Class by Terrence McNally. Other playwrights whose work premiered at PTC include Christopher Durang, David Ives, Naomi Wallace, Bruce Graham, Jeffrey Hatcher, Theresa Rebeck and many more. In recent years PTC produced the new work of emerging writers such as Lucas Hnath, Ike Holter, and Kimber Lee. Garonzik and staff have supported MacArthur Award- winning artists like Bill Irwin and Anna Deavere Smith, by providing support and production opportunities for their newest projects. In 2011 PTC established the annual Terrence McNally New Play Award to support the development of work whose themes treat the transformational power of theatre.

“Sara has always been a wonderfully collaborative supporter, setting a nurturing tone for each of the seven productions of my work," said playwright Terrence McNally who has partnered with PTC on four world premieres.  "Her impeccable taste, as well as her ability to offer valuable artistic insights,  have made working at PTC over the last twenty-two years a consistent pleasure.”

Garonzik has been active in the Philadelphia artistic community as President of the Board of the Philadelphia Cultural Fund from 2009-2012 and she sits on the Mayor’s Cultural Advisory Council, the Advisory Boards of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, and PlayPenn, a play development organization.

Under her leadership PTC has collaborated with numerous organizations at every level including the Kennedy Center, the Long Wharf Theatre and Primary Stages in New York. She also brought numerous award -winning theater directors to Philadelphia, many female, such as Pam MacKinnon, Mary B. Robinson, Maria Mileaf, and Anna Shapiro. In 2012 she arranged to bring the Broadway production of Kander and Ebb’s musical The Scottsboro Boys to PTC which included director/choreographer Susan Stroman and John Kander participating in rehearsals. The show combined PTC’s customary production excellence with themes of social justice, also an integral part of the company’s mission. In 2015 she created a new PTC program called Theatre Masters, a Monday night series of live onstage interviews featuring major theatre artists. Reflecting the impressive network of artists with whom Garonzik has forged relationships in her time at PTC, the popular series, which continues this season, has presented Kathleen Turner, Billy Porter, Bill Irwin, David Morse and Anna Deavere Smith.

“Philadelphia Theatre Company has been my home and my heart for a long time, and I will always be its number one fan,” said Garonzik. “Leading the company has been a tremendous opportunity for me to grow the theater and hone my skills in both the art and business of my profession. I remain grateful to the many board and staff members with whom I have worked as a great team to build PTC. And of course, I’m very excited about our upcoming season which is emblematic of PTC’s mission to produce new American plays and musicals.”

PTC has engaged Gregory Kandel of Management Consultants for the Arts, Inc. to organize a comprehensive national search which will commence immediately.