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New Managing Director Takes Center Stage At Westport Country Playhouse

Michael Barker was named the new managing director of the Westport Country Playhouse.
Michael Barker was named the new managing director of the Westport Country Playhouse. Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTPORT, Conn. — Michael Barker will be the new managing director at the Westport Country Playhouse, joining the staff early next month, the board of trustees announced Tuesday.

Barker, 36, comes to Westport from Mill Valley, Calif., where he was the managing director of Marin Theatre Company.

Barker will partner with Mark Lamos, artistic director, to lead the not-for-profit, professional theater, currently in its 86th season.

“I'm thrilled that Michael Barker will be coming to the Playhouse to partner with me as managing director,” said Lamos. “His leadership skills, his business acumen, and his inspired support for theater artists and their communities convinced the trustees of our search committee and me that he would be the perfect person to build a bridge to the future of this historic Playhouse.”

As managing director, Barker will work with the theater’s board of trustees, as well as the staff of the artistic, administrative, marketing, development, production, and finance departments, to oversee a $4.2 million annual budget.

"After an extensive six-month search, the Playhouse board of trustees is very pleased to welcome Michael Barker as our new managing director," said Barbara Streicker, board chair. "We are greatly impressed with his business background combined with his theater insight and experience. He brings new energy, range, and a strong sense of fiscal responsibility to shepherding our Playhouse into the next chapter of its 85-year history."

Barker joins Westport Country Playhouse after serving since 2013 as managing director of Marin Theatre Company, where in partnership with its artistic director he led a staff of 23 administrators, artists, and production personnel.

“The Westport Country Playhouse community is second to none in terms of its passion for and commitment to this valuable artistic and cultural resource," said Barker. "My family and I are excited to join this community, and I am eager to work with Mark and the entire team to accomplish great things going forward.”

Previously, Barker was general manager of Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach, Calif. He was managing director for the Los Angeles classical theater ensemble The Antaeus Company. Before moving to California, Barker was associate managing director at Yale Repertory Theatre and managing director of Yale Summer Cabaret, where he produced the first annual Carlotta Festival of New Plays.

Barker holds an MFA in theater management from Yale School of Drama and an MBA from Yale School of Management.

At Yale, he was the recipient of the Daniel and Helene Sheehan Scholarship for theater management and a Kosciusko Scholarship for outstanding students of Polish descent. He currently serves as vice president of the board of the Yale School of Management Alumni Association.

Barker is married to Heidi Hanson, a costume designer and graduate of Yale School of Drama. They have a son Lawrence.

Barker succeeds Michael Ross, who served as Playhouse managing director since 2009, stepping down on June 30, to rejoin Center Stage in Baltimore.

For Westport Country Playhouse information, go to www.westportplayhouse.org , call the box office at 203-227-4177 or visit Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport.

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