Shenandoah Conservatory announces new artistic director

shenandoah universityShenandoah Conservatory of Shenandoah University announced the appointment of Jeremy Blaustein ’06 as Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre’s new producing artistic director.

Blaustein, an award-winning actor, director and producer, is the third producing artistic director to lead the organization since its founding in 1984. He follows Professor Emeritus of Composition and Musical Theatre and Producing Artistic Director of SSMT Thomas Albert, D.M.A., and Founding Producing Artistic Director Harold Herman.

Blaustein is a Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award-nominated producer, whose Broadway credits include “Bonnie & Clyde,” “The Merchant of Venice” (with Al Pacino), “A Life in the Theatre” (with Patrick Stewart), “Race” (with James Spader and Kerry Washington), “Desire Under the Elms” (with Brian Dennehy), “Blithe Spirit” (with Angela Lansbury), “You’re Welcome America” (with Will Ferrell), “Speed-the-Plow” (with Jeremy Piven and William H. Macy), and “HAIR,” which also received a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Drama League Award and a Grammy Award. As a director, Blaustein’s work has been seen regionally, off-Broadway and in London’s West End, and as an actor, he has earned several Helen Hayes Award nominations. Blaustein, also a published novelist and essayist on Broadway history, graduated from Shenandoah Conservatory with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre in 2006.

As SSMT’s new producing artistic director, Blaustein will guide the overall artistic and organizational vision of SSMT.

“Beyond having exceptional credentials as a producer and musical theatre professional, Jeremy clearly has the capacity, vision and knowledge to lead SSMT into the next phase of its growth because he is so connected to its legacy,” said Dean of Shenandoah Conservatory Michael Stepniak, Ed.D.

Over the past several years, Blaustein has returned to his alma mater several times as an actor and director. In 2018, he directed Shenandoah Conservatory’s student production of “Noises Off,” and he has directed several SSMT productions, including “Ragtime” (2019), “Mamma Mia!” (2018), “Hairspray” (2017), and “The Pirates of Penzance” (2016). SSMT audiences may also recognize Blaustein from his role as Seymour in the 2016 production of “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Dr. Stepniak acknowledged and lauded Blaustein’s deep ties to both the conservatory and larger industry: “Not only does he have connections to Broadway and the D.C. theatre scene, but he has substantial experience with fundraising and operations, and a broad understanding of SSMT’s heritage, strengths and areas of opportunity for growth. He is uniquely positioned to both honor and build upon SSMT’s 35-year history.”

Blaustein, who was enthusiastically endorsed by SSMT leadership after an extensive search, will work to further elevate SSMT’s artistic and operational vision, including further strengthening programming, financial capacity, community impact and SSMT’s connection to Broadway and regional theatre. Outgoing Producing Artistic Director Thomas Albert, who actively participated in the search, stated, “I am delighted to welcome Jeremy as Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre’s third producing artistic director. In addition to being a Shenandoah Conservatory musical theatre and SSMT alumnus, he has impressive credentials as a producer, director, actor and author and brings a collaborative spirit, great energy and vision for the future.”

“I am thrilled to have Jeremy Blaustein take the helm of SSMT,” said SSMT Co-Producer/Technical Director, Harold Herman Chair in Musical Theatre and Chair of the Theatre Division Will Ingham, M.F.A. “As an alumnus of our musical theatre program and a longtime director and performer with SSMT, he is uniquely positioned to ensure the continued great work of SSMT.”

Blaustein will also work to further strengthen the connection between SSMT’s professional community and Shenandoah Conservatory’s musical theatre program, ensuring the university-based summer series remains a valuable tool for recruiting and training the nation’s most talented young theatre artists and students. Charles B. Levitin Chair in Musical Theatre Director and Director of the Musical Theatre Program Kevin Covert, B.F.A., shared: “We are thrilled to partner with Jeremy Blaustein to strengthen and explore the relationship between SSMT and the musical theatre program. Jeremy’s creative energy and vast experience as a producer in the New York theatre scene will be key in developing performance opportunities for our students.”

“This theatre means so much to me,” Blaustein said. “It always has, ever since my first summer here 15 years ago. Some of my most cherished memories have been made at SSMT. It is my sincerest goal to help SSMT continue to provide the standard of theatre this wonderful community deserves, and has now come to expect.” Blaustein assumes his position immediately, and is beginning to meet with all core SSMT leaders in working towards an exciting 2020 summer season.

Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre is a professional summer stock theatre company produced by Shenandoah Conservatory of Shenandoah University, home to one of the top musical theatre programs in the country. Located in Winchester, Virginia, 70 miles west of Washington, D.C., SSMT produces three full-scale musicals each summer, welcoming thousands of visitors. With professional-caliber scenery, costumes and lighting, as well as full live orchestration, SSMT has nurtured the talents of emerging young theatre artists and Broadway veterans alike, creating an undisputed reputation for exceptional musical theatre productions, and a time-honored tradition the region has treasured for over 35 years.

SSMT’s 2020 season features “Hello Dolly! (June 25 through July 5), “Sister Act” (July 9 through July 19), and “Cinderella” (July 23 through Aug. 2). More information is available online at ssmtva.org.





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