****UPDATE: Nash contacted 7D to clarify that he will remain on through the 2010-11 performing arts season to ease the transition to his successor.*****
Vermont Stage Company's artistic director Mark Nash has announced that he is leaving his post after 10 years, and that the nonprofit, professional theater group will launch a national search for his replacement.
Nash, 48, did not offer the reason typical of office holders: "I'm leaving to spend more time with my family." But, at least until he dives into his next vocation, he'll no doubt get to do just that, with his wife, the actress and intrepid eco-activist Kathryn Blume. The couple live in Charlotte and have no plans to leave the area.
And what might Nash's next vocation be? "I don't know," he says candidly, "but it's time to try something completely different." He's not just leaving VSC, he notes, but he might be leaving the theater world behind altogether. For a guy who's been an actor and director for a couple of decades, and AD for 10, that's saying a lot.
Of course, being an artistic director isn't just about making art. Nash has steered his nonprofit through some rough patches over the years, but leaves it "certainly in better shape than we were five years ago," he says. "This last season was a challenging one, but we're in a very strong position to move into the next season."
His 10th and final season was a triumph by other measures. "It was the most successful season we've ever had critically," Nash marvels. "It was raves almost all across the board."
One of its highlights -- and risks -- was staging an original musical by Vermont playwright Dana Yeaton called My Ohio. "Bringing a new piece of musical theater by a local playwright is such a rare thing," Nash notes. Yeaton's stage adaptation of author Chris Bohjalian's novel Midwives also remains a standout in VSC's history. That show, in the 2000-01 season, inaugurated the company's residency at the FlynnSpace in Burlington.
Last September, the company treated theatergoers to a recap of its first nine years and preview of the 10th in a gala evening featuring a performance titled The Complete History of Vermont Stage (abridged). VSC has staged about five productions a year --- serious and comedic, classic and contemporary -- with both local and New York-based Equity actors.
VSC was founded by Blake Robison in 1994 and staged its first production at Champlain College. Nash joined the company as an actor in 1997, performing first in Much Ado About Nothing, and assumed the artistic director position in 2000. And, it must be said, Nash has always been a charming, eloquent and good-natured emcee for his shows, even managing to point out the little "check-sized envelope" in the audience's programs without sounding crass. Now, that's a starring role in any nonprofit.