John Doyle, a miniaturist whose pared-down revival of The Color Purple begins previews on Broadway in November following its lauded debut at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory, has inherited the ultimate miniaturist space, off-Broadway’s Classic Stage Company. The nonprofit group announced today that Brian Kulick, who has led CSC for 12 years, will step down as artistic director at the end of this season. Doyle will assume the post in July 2016.
A Scottish director with a long list of credits in London and the U.S., Doyle most recently staged the John Kander/Fred Ebb/Terrence McNally musical The Visit on Broadway and has been an associate of CSC for the past two seasons. In 2006 he won the Tony Award for outstanding direction of a musical for his scaled back revival of Sweeney Todd, notable for a cast that also played instruments in the production, doubling as the orchestra.
Kulick, who has led CSC (as it’s mostly known) for 12 seasons, established a space for stars including actors Chris Noth, Peter Dinklage, Dianne Weist and Taylor Schilling, and directors frequently himself and Austin Pendleton, to reconsider plays and musicals from the contemporary and classical canons. They did this in a handkerchief-size space in New York’s East Village, where designers’ ingenuity is often as much a hallmark of the productions as the bold-face casting. CSC shows are invariably beautiful.
Kulick is slated to direct two of them this season: Mother Courage And Her Children, starring Tonya Pinkins, and Nathan The Wise, starring F. Murray Abraham. Doyle will direct the season’s final offering, Peer Gynt.
Kulick said he will remain as a consultant with the company, founded 48 years ago, through Doyle’s first season, “to make sure that John’s transition is a smooth one. After that I look forward to returning to 13th Street as an ardent audience member of one of our nation’s most intimate and electrifying theatrical spaces.” He plans to do more freelance directing and teaching.
“Brian will leave a legacy of established relationships with the New York theater community,” said CSC board chair Lynn Angelson, perhaps understating. “We are so fortunate that Brian introduced us to John Doyle several seasons ago, and thrilled to have John continue to build on those relationships and our expanded programming.”