May 28, 2014

New Leadership at Oddfellows Playhouse

May 28, 2014
For Immediate Release

Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theater is delighted to announce that it has appointed a new management team, led by Betsy Morgan as Executive Director and Melissa Schilke as Assistant Executive Director,  as part of the Playhouse’s transition as it approaches its 40th birthday in 2015.

Morgan, who was the Playhouse’s executive director from 1982 to 1997, recently retired as director of the Middlesex Coalition for Children. Schilke, a longtime member of the Playhouse’s Board of Directors, is director of Wesleyan Potters, Inc. Her responsibilities at the Playhouse will be part-time.

The management team includes the leadership of seven additional individuals who will take on important roles in financial and building management, marketing, fund raising, strategic planning and program support as volunteers: Mimi Rich, managing director of the Playhouse for many years; Susan Hall, previously director of development; Izzi Greenberg and Bobbye Knoll, former Playhouse staff; and Carol Schulz, Cindy Prue and Lucy McMillan, longtime supporters.  

Kristen Palmer, playwright and director, continues as the Playhouse’s Artistic Director.

Oddfellows Playhouse has been working with a transition consultant, Jeannette Archer-Simons, over the last six months.  “The board of directors appreciates her service to guide the organization to this next important stage and for providing transition support to the new team,” said Board Chair Glenn Taylor.

The management team has been charged with managing the day to day operations of the building and finances while developing funding resources for Oddfellows. The team will be working closely with the Artistic Director to ensure that dynamic theater programs will be available for area young people.   

Morgan stated, “I am excited to return to Oddfellows to support continued excellence in providing programs for children and youth in Middletown.  We would like to invite all the 'Oddfellows Kids' and friends of Oddfellows near and far to get involved as we move forward with plans to 'reboot' the Playhouse for the next 40 years."   

Oddfellows Playhouse is currently accepting applications for the Circus Summer Program and an exciting 2014-15 program of classes and productions will be announced in the next few weeks.

About the Playhouse:
Oddfellows Playhouse was founded in 1975 as a community-based, multicultural theater program designed to include children from all backgrounds. Oddfellows remains Connecticut’s largest and most active year-round youth theater, an independent, not-for-profit organization that annually serves over 1,200 young people.  The mission is “to build essential life skills through the performing arts.”
In 2013 Oddfellows Playhouse was named “Connecticut’s Best Children’s Theatre by Connecticut Magazine. In 2012 Oddfellows was awarded its very first National Endowment for the Arts award for the Our Town grant. In 2003, Citizens Bank named Oddfellows Playhouse its Community Champion for youth services, and CPTV featured the Playhouse and its program on a special titled art.culture.life. In 1999, the Playhouse received a Community Service Award from the Middlesex County NAACP in recognition of its years of commitment to young people, particularly those challenged by poverty.  The New England Theatre Conference recognized the Playhouse’s history of quality performing arts and youth education with an Award of Excellence in 1998.  The Playhouse has produced over 350 shows, including classics, contemporary and world premieres.

For more information contact:  Betsy Morgan at 860-347-6143 x 101 orexecutivedirector@oddfellows.org.