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OKC Rep reorganizes under new leadership

By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Senior Reporter —

OKLAHOMA CITY – Last May, the Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre (OKC Rep) and its Board of Directors announced the selection of its new Artistic Director Kelly Kerwin. Kerwin succeeded the founding Artistic Director Donald Jordan who has transitioned to artistic director emeritus.

“The vigorous national search resulted in more than 65 highly qualified candidates from across the United States,” said search committee chair Max Weitzenhoffer, chairman of Nimax Theaters, philanthropist, and OKC Rep Board member, in a statement. “We are impressed by Ms. Kerwin’s experience and vision and are excited to have her lead OKC Rep into the next generation.”

Kerwin started in the job on July 6. She relocated from New York City, where she served as associate producer for the Public’s Under the Radar Festival, and a line producer for plays and musicals in the Public’s five performance spaces. An adjunct professor at Connecticut College, Kerwin taught Theater and Culture. She earned a BFA in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism from the Theatre School at DePaul University, and an MFA in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism from the Yale School of Drama, where she received the Pierre-André Salim Prize.

“My vision is to produce powerful and innovative works of theatre that will help us better understand our own humanity,” Kerwin said.” I am honored to lead OKC Rep into the future, and I see this next phase as one that will be an expression of Oklahoma City’s ambition, creativity, and generosity of spirit. I’m so excited to be immersed in Oklahoma City’s thriving arts community.”

Of Kerwin, Jordan said in a statement, “In my time with her, she has shown the sense of service, commitment, artistic vision, professional excellence, and dedication needed to build upon our foundation and continue to lead the organization forward. I think the Rep and Oklahoma City are very lucky to have her.”

In September, OKC Rep announced the hiring of Jericha Bickell as its new general manager. Bickell is now responsible for building and managing budgets, creating and maintaining business and operational plans and overseeing the administrative needs of the organization. 

“I’m thrilled we found someone so talented from the OKC community,” Kerwin said. “When I first spoke with Jericha, it was clear I was talking with someone who not only loved theater, but possessed the skills to help take OKC Rep into the future. She has a managerial mind and a creative soul, and I feel so lucky to have her working alongside me.” 

Also, in September, Seth Gordon, Director of the Helmerich School of Drama at the University of Oklahoma, joined OKC Rep’s Board of Directors.

“I am thrilled to have Seth join our board,” Kerwin stated. “He is a leader in the field whose extensive career I deeply admire. He brings with him a wealth of industry skills and experiences that I know will benefit our organization as we continue to grow.”

Gordon served as Associate Artistic Director at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and the Cleveland Play House and was Associate Producer at Primary Stages in New York. In St. Louis, he created Ignite!, a new play festival; at the Cleveland Play House, he created FusionFest, a multi-disciplinary arts festival that included a new play festival, and at Primary Stages, he created the New American Writers Group.

“Mr. Gordon led the national search to select our new Artistic Director this past year and the process was seamless,” Cliff Hudson, OKC Rep Board President said, “Working with Seth was wonderful and we are elated that he will continue to work with us as a member of the Board.”

In addition to Hudson, the OKC Rep Board of Directors is comprised of Aaron Diehl, Treasurer; Nicole Poole, Secretary, Susan Chambers, Seth Gordon, Brenda Mendoza, Chip Oppenheim, Melissa Scaramucci, Dick Tanenbaum, Valerie Thompson, and Max Weitzenhoffer.

This month OKC Rep selected Laurena Sherrill as the Theatre’s Production Manager, where she will oversee all production and technical elements for productions.  

“I could not be more excited to announce the addition of Laurena to our growing team,” said Kerwin. “Laurena is well-connected to the local community of theater artists who live and work here. I know she will be a terrific thought-partner as we endeavor to create some unforgettable theater experiences for the city.”

Sherrill is an experienced production manager who has also worked to organize large scale events and manage venues. In addition, she is a stage manager of opera, dance, musical theater, and plays. Sherrill has worked extensively in the Oklahoma City arts scene–most recently with Festival of the Arts and the Lyric Theatre. She also has managed theatrical experiences in Washington D.C. and London. 

An award-winning, nationally recognized professional regional theater, OKC Rep produced its first play in 2002 and has produced more than 85 productions. OKC Rep is dediated to championing new ways of making theater, supporting innovative artists, and growing the cultural ecology of Oklahoma City.

For more information, visit okcrep.org.

From left: OKC Rep’s new General Manager Jericha Bickell, Production Manager Laurena Sherrill and Board of Directors member Seth Gordon. Facebook photos
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