Alliance Theatre chief Susan Booth is back from summer vacation (at Club Med!) and talking about the theater’s finances, losing two members of her leadership team, and the world premiere of “Come Fly With Me,” a Twyla Tharp dance show set to the songs of Frank Sinatra. Previews begin Sept 15.
On her Vacation: Booth and husband Max Leventhal, the Alliance’s general manager, and daughter Moira, 5, chilled at a Club Med in Florida, near West Palm Beach. “We haven’t had a vacation, the three of us, in like forever. It was heaven.”
On staff attrition: Associate Artistic director Kent Gash left in March to take a job leading a new musical-theater program at New York University. Earlier this month, managing director Tom Pechar was let go as part of administrative restructuring and belt-tightening. Neither position is being filled, at least in the near future.
“It is a really difficult landscape,” Booth said.
She called Gash’s opportunity in New York so “perfect and logical.” “Do I miss his presence? Absolutely.” But her artistic staff helps: “They’re really smart, really lippy.”
Regarding Pechar’s dismissal, she said, “We are by necessity figuring out every place we can operate more leanly, more strategically.”
On the Alliance’s financial performance: “We finished our last fiscal year incredibly close to our projection. Our year end was within percentage points on the negative side. But you celebrate what victories you can, and our projection was set before the recession hit.”
On “Come Fly With Me”: Booth called choreographer-director Twyla Tharp (above, with vocalist Dee Daniels at a Decmeber workshop, photo courtesy Gene Carl Feldman) “kind of a rock star. She created a new art form with ‘Movin Out’ [the Billy Joel musical], and now she’s doing it with as iconic a singer as there is, and doing it with us.
“There will be a 17-piece big band onstage, with 14 of the field’s best dancers — super-human athletes who just happen to traffic in the sport of dance. And it’s a world premiere from about the best American choreographer there is. We’re doing that in this economy, and that totally delights me.”