Second Stage Theater Co-Founder Carole Rothman to Depart After 45-Year Tenure

Second Stage Theater founder Carole Rothman is leaving the company after more than 45 years at its helm.

Rothman founded Second Stage in 1979, with the mission of developing and producing works by living American playwrights. The theater company operates the Tony Kiser Theater Off-Broadway and the Helen Hayes Theater on Broadway and has produced prominent shows such as the pre-Broadway production of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul’s Dear Evan Hansen, Next to Normal by Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt; Between Riverside and Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis and the Broadway revival of Richard Greenberg’s Take Me Out.

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Rothman will depart the organization at the end of the 2023-2024 Broadway season, which will see the world premiere of Paula Vogel’s Mother Play, starring Celia Keenan-Bolger, Jessica Lange and Jim Parsons and Appropriate, by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and starring Sarah Paulson.

“For 45 years, I have had the great honor of working with countless incredible artists and playwrights, many at the beginning of their careers, who are now among the brightest stars in the industry,” Rothman said. “The shows we have brought to life have been award-winners, conversation-starters, and groundbreakers. I’m forever grateful to all the people who have helped make Second Stage the creative springboard it is today. I’m so proud of what we have accomplished together.”

Asked for the reason for her departure, an outside press representative for Rothman, who sent the announcement, said she did not have any further comment beyond her written statement. When asked for comment on her departure, a spokesperson for Second Stage sent a statement from board co-chairs Terry Lindsay and Kevin Brockman.

“Carole has been a driving force in American theater since founding Second Stage 45 years ago, and we’re all indebted to her for her vision, her leadership, and her unwavering commitment to championing new artistic voices and diverse new works,” Lindsay and Brockman said. “We look forward to the world-class productions Carole has programmed for the upcoming 45th Anniversary Season and to celebrating her remarkable achievements over the coming year.”

After founding Second Stage in 1979, Rothman saw Second Stage move from an apartment building to a theater on the Upper West Side and then eventually to the Tony Kiser Theater on 43rd street. Second Stage purchased the Helen Hayes Theater on Broadway in 2015.

Other notable productions at Second Stage have included The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling by William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin, Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegria Hude, Clyde’s and By the Way, Meet Vera Stark by Lynn Nottage; This Is Our Youth and Lobby Hero by Kenneth Lonergan and many more.

Rothman’s departure marks the latest shakeup in Broadway’s nonprofit theater ecosystem, which consists of four nonprofits, after the death of longtime Roundabout Theatre Company CEO and Artistic Director Todd Haimes in April and after executive producer Barry Grove announced his departure in January from Manhattan Theatre Club after 48 years.

Chris Jennings, who had previously been the executive director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C, succeeded Grove. Director Scott Ellis has stepped in as interim artistic director at Roundabout.

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