Theatre Under the Stars announced Broadway choreographer Dan Knechtges as the company's new artistic director Monday evening.
As guest director, Knechtges had his fingers in last seasons's TUTS production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, a project Houstonia applauded for everything from its imaginative sets to snappy performances. And while Stages Repertory Theatre is the one bringing the roller skate musical comedy Xanadu to Houston later this fall, Knechtges choreographed the original Broadway production, garnering a 2008 Tony Award nomination. He racked up an additional Tony nomination as director and choreographer for Broadway musical Lysistrata Jones. His résumé also boasts work in the realms of opera, television and dance.
Knechtges comes into the role following the exit of Bruce Lumpkin in 2016. In 2014, Lumpkin found himself at the center of controversy when TUTS shut down a production of Hands on a Hardbody after the show's creators objected to changes in the licensed show. Sheldon Epps bridged the gap until TUTS completed a national search for a new artistic director. Without pointing to any event in particular, the Houston Chronicle reports Knechtges hopes to "repair the reputation of TUTS, both nationally and within the community."
"I look forward to forging new creative alliances within the Houston community and introducing them to a larger, national theatre community," Knechtges said in a separate statement. "TUTS will continue to be one of the bright cultural stars not only within Houston, but for Texas and the nation."
TUTS kicks off its 2017-2018 season this October with a production of Broadway classic The Secret Garden. If you can't wait, Knechtges will be around at this year's Theater District Open House on Saturday, August 27, where the public will have the opportunity size him up in person. With unstoppable juggernaut Hamilton making a stop in the Bayou City this season, we're excited to see how Knechtges will attempt to raise the bar for 2018-2019 cycle—the company's 50th anniversary.