Apr 28, 2020
by Jeanie K. Smith , San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle
One of our premiere theaters in Sonoma County just announced the cancellation of the remainder of its 2019/2020 season. It’s a wise decision for Main Stage West in Sebastopol, knowing that the pandemic affecting all of us isn’t going to relax its grip for a while yet.
Cancelling is not the same as shuttering, however, and thankfully MSW plans to continue producing its award-winning shows next season, albeit under new management. A recent missive from outgoing Artistic DirectorElizabeth Craven detailed the transition in leadership:
“As you may have heard, 2020-2021 begins a new era for Main Stage West. Effective immediately we begin the transition of handing over the artistic and administrative duties of the theater to Keith Baker and Ivy Rose Miller. Keith is well known to most of you as a fine actor/director and as MSW's first Producing Artistic Director (2011-2013) just before his exit into fatherhood and a career in teaching. He returns to us with two beautiful sons, renewed energy and vital artistic vision. In addition to being a familiar face on the MSW stage, Ivy Rose Miller comes to us as an experienced business woman, having spent the last five years as a manager and accountant for a local Sebastopol retail business. It is my opinion that Ivy and Keith possess just the right combination of skills to take us into the roaring 2020s. We feel so lucky to have them aboard.”
Craven and husband John Craven built a strong reputation for their small theatre since 2011, creating a loyal following who appreciate their professional production values and thoughtful mix of contemporary and classic plays. They’re smart to hand the success over to two talented artists who have served both onstage and behind the scenes, who understand the theatre’s mission and its commitment to excellence.
Ivy Rose Miller shared her thoughts on the transition: “I couldn't be more excited to have the opportunity of being the Managing Artistic Director of Main Stage West. Not only have I been acting on its stage since I was a child, but John and Beth Craven have been two of my most formative artistic mentors over the last 18 years. I am honored to be trusted to carry on their incredible legacy of providing Sonoma County with the highest quality theater.”
Miller and Keith Baker have shared the stage many times, and make a good team. Miller says, “I'm thrilled to be embarking on this new adventure with my good friend and artistic partner in crime.” Baker concurs, adding, “Main Stage West has been my artistic home for the past decade. And, more importantly, the core artists at Main Stage West have been my most important artistic collaborators. The prospect of helming this theater with Ivy is a dream come true, and we look forward to building on the artistic excellence for which Main Stage West is known.”
Asked what will remain and what is likely to change, Miller notes, “Main Stage West has always been progressive and bold in their play selection and we will continue in this tradition, producing provocative work that challenges and inspires our audience. We specifically want to showcase diverse perspectives with an emphasis on female and non-binary playwrights and narratives that explore the dynamics of gender and sexuality. In addition to new works, we will continue to stage fresh interpretations of classic plays from the canon, re-envisioned in our intimate setting.”
Main Stage West is in great hands for weathering the pandemic and maintaining its valued place in West County's vibrant cultural landscape. We can all look forward to an exciting new chapter in its history.
Main Stage West
104 N. Main Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Main Stage West theater in downtown Sebastopol. Photo by Paul Fritz.
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