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Jenny Gersten Leaving Williamstown Theatre Festival

To Run Friends of The High Line in New York

By: Charles Giuliano - 10/15/2013

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Jenny Gersten is moving on. Giuliano photos.
Jenny Gersten is moving on. Giuliano photos.
Jenny streaked the stage last summer during Animal Crackers.
Jenny streaked the stage last summer during Animal Crackers.
Upbeat during an exit interview in August.
Upbeat during an exit interview in August.
Fitting in at Williamstown.
Fitting in at Williamstown.
Jenny and her dad producer Bernard Gersten. (file photo)
Jenny and her dad producer Bernard Gersten. (file photo)
She was preceded by Nicholas Martin who returned to direct plays during her tenure.
She was preceded by Nicholas Martin who returned to direct plays during her tenure.
Last summer Martin directed Pygmalion and Kate Burton starred in Hapgood,.
Last summer Martin directed Pygmalion and Kate Burton starred in Hapgood,.
Former artistic director Roger Rees has returned to the stage.
Former artistic director Roger Rees has returned to the stage.

At the end of the season of the Williamstown Theatre Festival we met with its artistic director Jenny Gersten.

Like the artistic directors that preceded her, Roger Rees and Nicholas Martin, it was the third and final season of her contract.

I pressed her on future plans and drew the response that “I’m uncomfortable talking about my contract.”

Today in a brief e mail letter to WTF subscribers she announced that she is taking a new post as the executive director of Friends of the High Line.

“Since the city is my hometown and since High Line is from my point of view a spectacular element of my hometown it was a rare opportunity I couldn’t pass up” Gersten wrote.

The good news is that she will program and remain in close contact for the execution of the 2014 season of Williamstown Theatre Festival.

With a deep love for the Festival she assures that every effort will be made for a smooth transition in the search for new leadership.

In many ways, for Gersten, theatre is the family business. It has been speculated that one day she will be a Broadway producer like her renowned father Bernard Gersten.

Before Williamstow she was a part of the team that brought Diane Paulus’s Tony winning revival of Hair to Broadway.

The Williamstown Theatre Festival production of the new musical Bridges of Madison County will open on Broadway this season. Last year the WTF musical Far From Heaven enjoyed an Off Broadway Run.

Gersten’s tenure at WTF represented her first position as artistic director of a company. The first season was not well received by some critics leading to rifts which were healed by a stronger second season. For her third and final year in Williamstown, like the hit’s Johnny Baseball, Bridges of Madison County and a sold out run of Stoppard’s Hapgood starring Kate Burton, she was knocking them out of the park with a series of grand slams. Her Elephant Man with Bradley Cooper from 2012 might yet make it to the Great White Way.

By the end of the third smash season, as we discussed during an exit interview, it was evident that WTF would have a tough time holding on to such an explosive and well connected talent.

The real surprise is that she is not taking a further step in theatre.

But one tends to think that the view from the High Line, however heady, will gaze down on Broadway.

Break a leg Jenny but remember there’s no business like show business.

So it’s another three and out for WTF.

Batter up!

 

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