Village Theatre’s artist director will take his final bow this spring, having served 25 years in his role and directed 64 mainstage productions.
Artistic director Steve Tomkins’ first project with Village Theatre was in 1987 as the choreographer of West Side Story, and he made his directorial debut the following year in the production of Gypsy. He started with the renowned theater company in its infancy and was soon promoted to his current position.
Executive producer Robb Hunt said as the theater was expanding from 200 seats to 500, it was clear the company needed an artistic director. Village Theatre is the largest fully producing theater in the Pacific Northwest, with five buildings, theaters in Issaquah and Everett, and an annual operating budget of $13.2 million.
Tomkins is known for working “quietly” in the background to develop young talent, and was said to have impacted many elementary performers who participated in Village Theatre’s KIDSTAGE, as well as hundreds of artistic professionals.
“He raised me up right,” said mentee and Pulitzer Prize-winner Brian Yorkey, who recently was a producer on the Netflix original series 13 Reasons Why. “He taught me something that has made all the difference in my career — that you’ll never make something perfect, but you can always make it better, and keep making it better until the moment they drag you away and make you open the show. I owe the man everything and love him dearly.”
Tomkins’ professional arts career started in 1972 as a member of The Empty Space’s acting company in Seattle and worked in several theaters across the country, including staged and choreographed shows with Greg Thompson Productions.
“It has been an amazing journey,” Tomkins said. “These past 25 seasons have gone by in a blink of an eye. I want to especially thank our amazing staff, our 20,000 loyal subscribers, and friends for whom it has been a pleasure and an honor to serve.”
Longtime Village Theatre collaborator Jerry Dixon will serve as artistic director when Tomkins officially retires on July 1. Dixon’s work with Village Theatre began in 2006 as a guest director for the theater’s original musical Barnstormer. He has since directed several shows at Village Theatre and at Carnegie Hall and The Lincoln Center, as well as performed on Broadway.