Say this for Kate Warner: she's not exactly easing into her new job. Warner took over April 22 as the New Rep's artistic director and hit the ground running. "I've done a lot of social networking," she says. "It's like I've been speed-dating the Boston theater community."
Say this for Kate Warner: she's not exactly easing into her new job.
Warner took over April 22 as the New Rep's artistic director and hit the ground running. "I've done a lot of social networking," she says. "It's like I've been speed-dating the Boston theater community."
And as if she doesn't have enough on her plate trying to attract audiences, Warner is directing "Mister Roberts" which kicks off New Rep's 2009-10 season with a Sept. 13 through Oct. 3 run.
Warner arrived from Atlanta where she was artistic director at the acclaimed Dad's Garage Theatre, where she also directed plays for 10 years. "Dad's Garage was founded by 10 gentlemen who all went to the University of Florida," says Warner. "I was the first chick to run it. I couldn't be prouder of my work there."
Warner has big shoes to fill at New Rep, where longtime artistic director Rick Lombardo brought the company to prominence from a church space in Newton to the state-of-the-arts main stage and black box spaces in Watertown. When Lombardo left for a theater job in California, New Rep's search committee was set in motion.
"I interviewed twice," says Warner. "Both times it was in the winter. There was snow both times. So I knew what I was getting into. It snows in Atlanta about once every other year."
Once she settled in - she's now living in Cambridge - Warner was greeted by a dose of Northern hospitality. "I knew this was going to be an amazing professional (theater) community. People were extremely warm and generous. It kinda blew me away."
An Atlanta native, Warner attended Kalamazoo (Mich.) College where she decided "I wanted to be a director and run a theater." Actually, the seeds were planted long before that. "When I was 4 or 5 my mother says I was directing when we were playing house or with dolls."
The high school Warner went to didn't have a drama program, so she entered a summer arts camp. "I was training to be a musician in the orchestra and band. I played viola and percussion in the band. My sense was that's what my parents were hoping I'd do. But once I got to college, theater people became by tribe."
During her sophomore year, Warner interned at an off-Broadway production. "I was 19 and in New York. It was fantastic." The next year she studied in Greece and Turkey.
After graduating she needed some time to herself. "I was somewhat irresponsible, traveling across the country." It was a carefree time. She was also jobless. "I returned to Atlanta and got jobs in theater, including waiting tables."
At Dad's Garage, Warner directed more than 20 plays, "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" being one of her favorites. "I was really proud of that. We got 60 gallons of white paint and turned the black box white."
At her final interview with New Rep, Warner presented her vision for the new season. "There have been some small changes but, by and large, it's what I'd chosen."
Warner painstakingly searched for the "Mister Roberts" lead, made famous by Henry Fonda. "We did hours and hours of auditions, but I didn't see the right Mister Roberts." Then Thomas Piper showed up. "I'd known him through a mutual friend," says Warner. "He was in New York. I called to see if he'd be available."
He was, and she had her Mister Roberts. "He's really a smart actor," says Warner.
Somehow, the ever-busy Warner has made time to check out her new environs, and not only the city. "I'm letting myself explore. This is a big move for me. I've been to the beach, went out to Concord and to Maine. I've been whale-watching. I'm trying to give myself the full Boston experience."
Kate Warner has come a long way from Dad's Garage. There's no turning back now.
"Mister Roberts" runs Sept. 13 to Oct. 3 at the New Repertory Theatre at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal St., Watertown. For tickets, go to newrep.org or call 617-923-8487.
MetroWest Daily News