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Stephen Eich named executive director of Pasadena Playhouse

June 29, 2009 |  6:22 pm

Stephen Eich

Stephen Eich, the former managing director of the Geffen Playhouse, has been named executive director of the Pasadena Playhouse in partnership with Playhouse artistic director Sheldon Epps. He will assume the new position on Wednesday.

It seems that Pasadena Playhouse and the Geffen have a thing for swapping executives -- on June 1, Ken Novice, former interim managing director of Pasadena Playhouse, took over as managing director at the Geffen.

Eich, who left his Geffen post last June, is also a former managing director of Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater Company. He most recently surfaced as one of the producers of "Rantoul and Die," a dark comedy that opened at Hollywood's Lillian Theatre in May (read David Ng's "Rantoul" review).

On Monday, Eich told Culture Monster that one reason for leaving the Geffen was

what he felt was an unwieldy leadership structure that called for both the managing director and the Geffen's artistic director, Randall Arney, to report to Geffen producing director Gil Cates.

In his position as Pasadena Playhouse executive director -- a title he says means basically the same thing as managing director -- Eich said he expects that he and Epps will have greater control over programming, marketing, fundraising and local and international promotion because they do not answer to a producing director. "At the Geffen, all creative decisions stopped on Gil's desk; if he was there, we got an answer -- and if he wasn't, we didn't," Eich said.

At Pasadena Playhouse "there is no founder like Gil who is guiding the artistic director and the managing director," Eich continued. "The traditional structure that has been successful across the country is that the artistic and managing directors answer to an executive committee of the board of directors."

Eich added that he is excited about Epps' "passion and creative energy and also loves the Playhouse, an institution since 1917. "I love the space, I love the history," he said.

-- Diane Haithman

Photo: Stephen Eich.  Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times