Andrew Park, an award-winning artistic director, stage director, playwright, lyricist and puppeteer, has been hired as the artistic director for the Nebraska Repertory Theatre and research assistant professor in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. He will begin Jan. 2.
“The Rep has served students and the community well for more than 45 years, providing professional, Equity theater for Lincoln, and Andy is poised to take it to the next level artistically when we relaunch it, better than ever, next year,” said Charles O’Connor, dean of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts.
Park follows Virginia Smith, who stepped down as artistic director in 2014 after 10 years but continues her role as senior faculty in the Carson School.
“The Rep has been an integral part of the community for generations, and I’m looking forward to expanding the theater season and contributing to the theater’s proud tradition,” Park said. “We’re on the verge of creating theater together that will be impossible to ignore.”
The Nebraska Repertory Theatre, affiliated with the professional Actors Equity Association, has been on hiatus since 2014. A new collaboration between the Nebraska Repertory Theatre and University Theatre, expected to begin in fall 2017, will expand opportunities for audiences and students to engage with professional artists over a nine-month season. The Rep will also have the opportunity to collaborate with the Lied Center for Performing Arts and other community or regional partners.
“Andy brings a wide variety of directing experience to our school and, more importantly, to the Nebraska Repertory Theatre, as we create a new vision for its future,” said Harris Smith, interim director of the Carson School. “Through Andy’s leadership, we look forward to creating a professional theater that will not only impact the quality of professional training for our students, but theater in our state and the Midwest.”
Park is the founding artistic director of Quest Theatre Ensemble, a position he has held since 2002. Quest is an award-winning, free theater committed to ensuring that everyone has access to the arts.
He has been artistic director of the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago since 2007. Park writes, directs and produces aquatic shows that feature dolphins, beluga whales, sea lions, penguins and birds of prey. Past shows at the aquarium include “Fantasea,” “A Holiday Fantasea” and “One World.”
In 1998, Park was appointed artistic director of the Showboat Becky Thatcher Theater in Marietta, Ohio, a position he held for three years before leaving for Chicago.
In Chicago, Park has worked as a stage director and playwright. His original production “Seashore” was nominated for three Jeff Awards including best ensemble and best new work.
He also conceived and directed an opening spectacle for the 2005 Lollapalooza Music Festival and was artistic director for the Chicagoland Puppetry Guild’s Puppet Festival and QuesFest, a puppet and drum festival on Chicago’s north side.
Additional directing highlights include Circus Crashers at Actors Gymnasium, “Failure: A Love Story” at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, three productions for the Cirque Shanghai, the European tour of Quest’s “Blue Nativity” and “The People’s History of the United States,” and “Evolution/Creation.”
Park has written 10 full-length musicals with his longtime collaborator and friend, composer Scott Lamps. Their newest musicals, “A Christmas Wish” and “Return of Neverland,” were nominated for three Jeff Awards in 2014 including best music and lyrics.