Julianne Boyd Steps Down at Barrington Stage
Co Founded Theatre Company in 1995
By: Charles Giuliano - Nov 04, 2021
In 1995 Julianne Boyd co-founded Barrington Stage Company producing sparsely attended but critically well received shows in a high school auditorium in Sheffield. In 2005 the company purchased and renovated a formed vaudeville house in Pittsfield. Coping with Covid-19 Boyd mounted a successful 2021 season. With the company is good shape, citing age, she is passing the reins to new leadership. In December she turns 77. She will stay on through the search and transition for a new artistic director.
We moved to the Berkshires in 2006 which was the first year of productions in the Pittsfield venue. We soon got to know Boyd through long time publicist Charlie Siedenburg. Initially, I shared theatre coverage with the late Larry Murray who went on to establish his own website. Murry was the founder of the now well established annual Berkies. Boyd and her company have won many of those coveted awards.
In 2009 Murray reviewed Freud's Last Session which he proclaimed "A work of genius." At the end of the run I interviewed the playwright Mark St. Germain. That evolved into a relationship as he developed a number of new works for the company including writing the book for Crossing a new musical this past season.
There were also a number of regular interviews with Boyd. Her first love had been musicals. Early on the company sent William Finn's 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee to Broadway. There would be other Broadway, Off Broadway, and regional theatre productions that originated at Barrington Stage.
Boyd brought a personal touch to opening nights. She would walk down the aisle and address the audience. That generally included recognizing and thanking donors. It was through that generosity that the company presented many new works. That included smaller productions on the Mark St. Germain stage of a former VFW post which it initially rented and later purchased. The company also acquired two administrative buildings one of which included rehearsal space.
Once thriving Pittsfield had fallen on hard times. When Barrington Stage planted roots it was a part of the economic transition. That also included Berkshire Theatre Company which renovated the vintage Colonial Theatre. In a controversial transaction Pittsfield's Berkshire Museum refunded itself by the deaccession of some 25 works of art including two paintings given to it by illustrator Norman Rockwell.
Overall, Boyd leaves a stable and secure company in a community that has crawled back from the brink.
Press Release from Barrington Stage Company.
Julianne Boyd, Founder and Artistic Director of Barrington Stage Company (BSC) in the heart of the Berkshires, has announced plans to retire at the end of the 2022 season. The Board of Trustees is conducting a national search for her successor, who will assume leadership in the fall of 2022.
“Seeing Barrington Stage Company grow from humble beginnings to the vibrant institution it has become has been one of the greatest joys in my life,” commented Ms. Boyd. “I am proud of all we have accomplished - from producing innovative revivals to serving as an incubator of bold and challenging new plays and musicals. And just as important to me is the work we have done in the community, both in our educational programs and our productions – they have made a difference in the lives of youth and adults in Pittsfield and the larger Berkshire community. However, theatres need new blood, and after 27 years at the helm, I am ready – and excited - to support the next artistic director and the new era BSC will enter.
Marita Glodt, President of the Board of Trustees said “Julie’s imprint on the city of Pittsfield and Berkshire County is part of her extraordinary legacy. Her commitment to community and the arts has been instrumental in shaping the Berkshires as a destination. The theatre has flourished under her inspired leadership. We look forward to the 2022 season with Julie and to welcoming the next artistic director to launch 2023 at Barrington Stage.”
Boyd founded BSC in 1995, with the company originally performing in a high school in Sheffield, MA. BSC staged several award-winning shows in its early seasons, including a production of Cabaret that moved to Boston for an extended run.
In 2004, the theatre achieved national recognition for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which originally workshopped and premiered in the high school’s cafeteria, as well as a critically acclaimed production of Follies that was staged in the auditorium.
In 2005, Boyd led the company to purchase a dilapidated former vaudeville house in Pittsfield, MA, 45 minutes north of Sheffield. After a year of renovations, BSC opened the venue as a state-of-the-art theatre where such hits as On the Town, The Pirates of Penzance, the world premiere of American Son, Company starring Aaron Tveit, West Side Story and the recent world premiere of A Crossing have played.
In 2009, BSC rented a former VFW building in Pittsfield for the company’s Stage 2. The building, which was purchased in 2012, is now the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Center where such notable productions as Freud’s Last Session, Southern Comfort, Dr Ruth All the Way (later retitled Becoming Dr. Ruth) and The Chinese Lady (soon to be seen at the Public Theatre) had their world premieres.
Under Boyd’s leadership, BSC has produced 41 world premieres, 17 of which have moved on to New York or major regional theatre productions, including three on Broadway and ten Off Broadway.
Boyd has helped BSC to develop close and supportive relationships with many artists, including William Finn, Mark St. Germain, John Rando, Joshua Bergasse, Debra Jo Rupp, Beowulf Borritt, Alejo Vietti, Christopher Innvar, Jeff McCarthy, Alan H. Green and Mark H. Dold, all of whom have become Associate Artists at the theatre.
BSC has developed a five-building campus in Pittsfield: the Boyd-Quinson Mainstage; the Blatt Center, which houses the St Germain Stage and Mr. Finn’s Cabaret; the Wolfson, which houses BSC’s Administrative offices and rehearsal studios; the Octagon House for staff housing; and the newly acquired Production Center.
Boyd has created several outstanding educational programs and initiatives at BSC, including the award-winning Playwright Mentoring Project, a program for underserved youth, which received a national award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities; the Musical Theatre Lab, to help young artists develop and create new musicals; the popular 10x10 New Play festival, now in its 11th season; and the Musical Theatre Conservatory, training pre-professionals for careers in musical theatre.
BSC was the first Equity theatre in the country to open during the pandemic in 2020 with Harry Clarke starring Mark H. Dold. This year, they produced a six-show season, including three world premieres: Sister Sorry, Boca and A Crossing as well as the critically acclaimed Who Could Ask For Anything More: the Songs of George Gershwin, Chester Bailey and Eleanor.