When Penelope Notter publically announced her retirement earlier this year, Grand Rapids Civic Theatre knew that filling the void created by her departure would be no easy feat.
Notter, who joined the Civic Theatre in 1989, is known for her dedication to theater education and award-winning production. After an extensive search, which included talented candidates from across the nation, one name shone brightest: Allyson Paris.
"Allyson Paris is an accomplished theatre artist on and off the stage. Her education, teaching, directing, and performing experience have prepared her to assume the position of associate director," noted Bruce E. Tinker, Civic Theatre executive and artistic director. "It is fitting that Penelope Notter, who made so many contributions to Civic Theatre, be succeeded by someone so accomplished."
Paris, a relative newcomer to the Grand Rapids area, quickly merged herself into the theater community. She appeared in a number of area productions, taught classes at Civic Theatre, and is guest director for the theater's Traveling Troupe, an outreach program created by Notter that's celebrating its 25th anniversary.
"I am deeply honored and am looking forward to building on the foundation that Penny has laid down for the School of Theatre Arts, and to deepening Civics' ties to the Grand Rapids community through education and outreach," Paris said.
"Being a part of the Civic Staff has been the joy of my life, the perfect job. I have worked with an amazing professional design staff who made my crazy production 'visions' come true, and it has been an honor to have helped create one of the leading community theatre education program in the nation," said Notter. "I am thrilled that Allyson Paris will be succeeding me as associate director. She is highly qualified and has a wealth of experience with many prestigious theater companies. Her experiences nationwide will allow her to bring new ideas and programs to our School of Theatre Arts."
Paris will begin her career with the Civic Theatre on July 1, as Notter completes her tenure on June 30. It is indeed a bittersweet time of change for Civic Theatre.
The Civic Theatre is proud to kick off September with the world debut of an original work: The Boatwright. Mary Poppins takes the stage just in time for the holidays. January will bring the mystery The Mousetrap to life, followed by the Rogers and Hammerstein masterpiece South Pacific. In April, children will adore Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Making a Civic debut in June, Avenue Q brings puppets to life. The 2015 – 2016 season closes with Footloose and The Little Princess.
For information on the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre or to purchase tickets, call 616.222.6650 or visit www.GRCT.org.
Photo courtesy of Andrea Snyder.