Renaissance Performing Arts Association Announces Transition of Artistic Director Michael Thomas
Mansfield, OH: After an illustrious tenure spanning fifteen years at the Renaissance Theatre’s acclaimed Artistic Director, Michael Thomas, is set to embark on a new chapter with the organization as he steps into the role of Artistic Consultant for the organization. In light of this change, the Renaissance Performing Arts Association is taking the opportunity to celebrate and express gratitude for Thomas's phenomenal contributions that have shaped the institution's creative landscape.
Under his visionary leadership, Thomas has directed nearly 100 productions, including especially notable performances such as, ”Assassins”, "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder”, “Once” "Sweeney Todd," "Mamma Mia," “Dreamgirls,” and countless others. His innovative spirit and artistic excellence have left an indelible mark on the Renaissance stage, particularly through his development of new works and his commitment to programming pieces that challenge and inspire audiences and artists alike.
Acknowledging Thomas's immense contribution, Chelsie Thompson, Renaissance President and CEO, expressed profound gratitude, stating, "Michael Thomas has been a driving force behind the Renaissance's artistic journey. His dedication and creative brilliance have been invaluable in shaping our organization into the beacon of creativity it is today, and we are so grateful to him for choosing to share his talents here in Mansfield.”
Originally hailing from New London, Thomas is an alum of the Conservatory of Music at Oberlin College and Wright State University. His journey to the Renaissance was marked by significant achievements, including musical directing national tours of The Secret Garden and Once On This Island. While in Chicago, Thomas co-wrote the long-running “Hamlet: The Musical” with Jeff Richmond, performed with The Second City, and also received three coveted Joseph Jefferson Awards for his theatre work, including “With or Without Wings”, which was named ‘Best New Play of 2001’. His original musical, “Melancholy Baby” (also written with Jeff Richmond) was the inaugural show at New York City’s acclaimed Ars Nova Theatre in 2002.
Thomas chose to premiere several of his original works at the Ren, including "At Last: An Evening with Etta James," “Hot Mess: A Lethal New Musical,” “Twilight Gardens,” “The Last Act,” "Remember Me Always: Highschool Yearbook 1977, and the “Heartaches” film for Ren Studios These, among many others, have captivated audiences and showcased his extraordinary creative prowess. Thomas was especially instrumental in the establishment of the Emerging Artists Program, spearheading this pioneering initiative and fostering new works for the stage and film, showcasing the Renaissance's commitment to innovation and nurturing upcoming talent, and bringing national recognition to the Renaissance’s artistic programming.
Jason Painley, Chairman of the Renaissance Board of Directors, honored the broad scope of Michael’s artistic contributions: “The artistic excellence that defines the Renaissance bears the signature of Michael Thomas. His talent, leadership, and network have brought the national spotlight to our community and to 138 Park Avenue West. His contributions, like our gratitude, will be enduring.”
As Thomas transitions from Artistic Director at the end of December, he will remain an active voice as the organization’s Artistic Consultant, serving as an invaluable resource and continuing to oversee the organization’s Emerging Artist program. Stepping into the role of Interim Artistic Director, the Renaissance welcomes Angela Iannone with the start of the new year. Angela, with Thomas's endorsement, brings her own remarkable talents and artistic vision to the forefront. She steps into this role with enthusiasm, having recently showcased her talents in the spring production of Follies and set to perform a one-woman rendition of A Christmas Carol in December at Theatre 166.
Thomas's final production, "Hello, Dolly!" starring Tony Award nominee Jennifer Simard and Emmy Award winner Jeff Richmond, will mark a grand finale to his tenure as Artistic Director. Mansfield is invited to celebrate Michael Thomas's extraordinary 15-year legacy through this spectacular performance, which opens November 11.
We thank Michael Thomas for his remarkable contributions and look forward to continuing to grow the incredible legacy that he established.
Press release and photo provided by Jillian Henry, Market Manager, Renaissance Theatre