Ordway Announces James A. Rocco’s Departure

Tony Jilek, Ordway 5/17/17

SAINT PAUL, Minn. (May 16, 2017) — The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts announced today that James A. Rocco has decided to step down from his role as Vice President of Programming and Producing Artistic Director to pursue his freelance career. After more than a decade of remarkable service to the Ordway, Mr. Rocco’s departure date is planned for December 22, 2017.

“I’m proud of our accomplishments and excited to get back to pursuing my own artistic life,” says Mr. Rocco about his decision to leave the Ordway.

Laura McCarten, chair of the Ordway board of directors, praised Rocco’s work. “James leaves an important legacy at the Ordway – his talent, passion and dedication has enriched this whole community. On behalf of the Ordway board and supporters, I want to express my deep admiration and appreciation to James for all he has done for the Ordway and the Twin Cities.”
“The Musical Theater Series and Ordway Originals are set up for a successful future, in large part due to the many years of exceptional work by James Rocco,” says Jamie Grant, President and CEO of the Ordway. “I was drawn to this organization because of its rich history with and commitment to producing and presenting musical theater. James played a vital role in building that history and in the consistent creation and presentation of high-quality productions.”

“I’ve been at the Ordway longer than any other theater over the course of my career. I’ve made many friends and have been fortunate to work with an incredibly talented and diverse group of artists, all of whom have shaped me as an artist and person.” Rocco states, “After reviewing the board’s strategic plan, I know that musical theater has a future at the Ordway. That’s been my goal since the day I arrived.”

Prior to arriving at the Ordway in 2005, James A. Rocco was Producing Artistic Director of Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, and was interim Artistic Director at Stage One, a company dedicated to producing new musicals.

Rocco produced and directed his first show in New York City (a revival of Bob Merrill’s Henry, Sweet Henry) at The Lambs Theatre and has worked at venues around the world (e.g. Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Art Sphere Tokyo, Nissay Theater Tokyo, Théâtre du Châtelet, 5th Avenue Theatre, The Houston Grand Opera, The National Theatre) On and Off-Broadway in both theatricals and concerts.

During his years at the Ordway Rocco produced Love, Janis (2007 Ameriprise Ivey Award),

The Rocky Horror Show (Best Musical of 2007, Star Tribune), The Sound of Music, Cabaret (2008 Outstanding Musical Production Ivey Award, Best of 2008, Lavender) the new “American Musical” Yankee Doodle, Grey Gardens (Top Ten Productions, Lavender), Beauty and the Beast, Broadway Songbook® Series (Top Picks, 2013, Lavender), Damn Yankees (Twin Cities Bloggers Award, Best Theater Trend in Diversity and Non-Traditional Casting), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor® Dreamcoat, Pirates of Penzance (Twin Cities Bloggers Award, Favorite Musical), Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and presented many other touring productions.

This week Rocco and Grant will attend the Broadway League conference in New York City to begin planning Ordway’s 2018-2019 Musical Theater Series. Rocco will stay on to direct Jesus Christ Superstar and will partner with Al Justiniano (Artistic Director, Teatro del Pueblo) on In the Heights. Finally, Rocco will produce Annie, the Ordway’s holiday musical. Mr. Rocco is in very high demand as a director and will be co-directing and choreographing 5th Avenue Theatre’s production of Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn in Seattle, WA.

“James Rocco is a well-known and respected artist, director, collaborator and connector of people and communities. He will certainly be missed by me and so many others,” notes Grant.

McCarten reports that a national search for Mr. Rocco’s replacement will begin shortly and will be led by Jamie Grant.

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