Industry Roundup: Jordan Roth Becomes Youngest Owner of Broadway Theater Chain, Musical Press Chairs, and Public Theater News
Jordan Roth, Matt Polk, Jessica Johnson, and Jill Garland make moves.
It's been a big month for backstage news on Broadway.
Jordan Roth, the 37-year-old president of Jujamcyn Theaters, one of the three primary owner-operators of Broadway theaters, became the company's principal owner last week. Roth purchased a majority of the theater chain's shares in a recent transaction with previous co-owner Rocco Landesman, who will now take on a president emeritus title.
Roth joined Jujamcyn Theaters, which was founded in 1956, in 2005. The company owns and operates five Broadway theaters: The St. James, The Al Hirschfeld, The August Wilson, The Walter Kerr and The Eugene O' Neill, where The Book of Mormon began its blockbusting run in 2011. Roth is also the creator of Givenik.com, a site where theatergoers can give 5% of their ticket price to a charity of their choice.
Meanwhile, over in the PR bubble, press agent Matt Polk peeled away from longtime employer Boneau/Bryan-Brown to open his own public relations and media strategies house, Polk and Co., which officially began business on January 14. Polk brings with him longtime client Roundabout Theatre Company (Picnic, The Big Knife, The Mystery of Edwin Drood), as well as veteran Boneau/Bryan-Brown agent and colleague Jessica Johnson, a longstanding team member on the Roundabout account and veteran rep of clients including One Man, Two Guvnors and The Royal Shakespeare Company.
Polk's various accounts during his 15-year career have included The Lion King, The Heiress, Once, Disney, DreamWorks, as well as publicity campaigns for individual celebrities, producers, and cultural institutions.
"I am eternally grateful to Chris Boneau and Adrian Bryan-Brown, who have been my mentors for the last 15 years," Polk said in a statement. "I made the decision to leave my professional family in order to grow, and to continue to challenge myself and further my personal commitment to my current and future clients."
Shortly after the departure of Polk and Johnson, Boneau/Bryan-Brown (a Twitter favorite in the theater community) released news that press agents Aaron Meier and Heath Schwartz have been promoted to the position of Vice President of Account Services, joining reigning veeps Jim Byk, Jackie Green, Joe Perrotta and Susanne Tighe. Meier signed on with BBB in 2001 and serves as Director of Online Editorial Development, as well as campaigner for Manhattan Theatre Club and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, among others. Schwartz joined BBB in 2004 and handles press for The Heiress, Jersey Boys, Pippin, Nice Work if You Can Get It, and Signature Theatre.
Boneau/Bryan-Brown began serving the theater public in 2001.
Downtown, The Public Theater announced on January 22 it has appointed Jill Garland Senior Director of Development. Garland comes to The Public Theater with 15 years of experience as the Director of Development at Playwrights Horizons. She most recently worked as the Vice President of Development at Nyack Hospital, where she was responsible for managing a $5 million overhaul of the institution's emergency care department.
Before her transition to hospital administration, Garland was Director of Development at Playwrights Horizons from 1996 to 2011. During her tenure, the theater won two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama, numerous Tony awards and a designation as a Leading American Theater by the Doris Duke/Andrew W. Mellon Foundations Initiative. Garland also spearheaded the successful $33 million campaign to erect a new home for the theater. Previously, Garland was the Managing Director of Naked Angels Theater Company. She has also worked as a consultant with Our Time, an organization that uses theater, among other outlets, to reach out to and assist students who stutter.
Garland joins Public Theater Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director, Patrick Willingham at the top of the organization's executive team.
"I am thrilled to have Jill on board during this crucial time in The Public's history as we emerge as a Center for Culture, Arts and Ideas," Willingham said. "We are thrilled to have Jill join us as we continue to build on this wave of excitement through the spring season, Shakespeare in the Park, and beyond."