New leadership at Breckenridge Backstage Theatre
October 10, 2018
Following a summer punctuated by two high-profile departures, Breckenridge Backstage Theatre is pushing forward on a new season with new leadership.
Expressing great excitement for the community theater's upcoming 45th season, which kicks off this Thanksgiving weekend, its new executive director, Debbie Trevino, trumpeted the hiring of a new artistic director at Tuesday's town council meeting in Breckenridge.
Backstage Theatre was thrust into the spotlight this summer with the resignation of its former executive director, Erin Gigliello, whose announcement came one day after the theater board publicly apologized for a satirical sketch lampooning President Donald Trump at the theater's biggest fundraiser of the year.
Gigliello was soon replaced by Trevino, who started Aug. 27. A couple days later, the theater's longtime artistic director, Chris Willard, announced he too would resign from his post. Willard broke the news in an email to theater volunteers the same day as his 13th anniversary with the group.
Moving forward, Trevino, a partner at a recruiting firm for 20-plus years before coming to Breckenridge, immediately went to work searching for Willard's successor, she told council.
That search led her to Nathan Autrey, who earned his bachelor's degree in acting and directing from the University of North Texas in 2007 and his master's in directing from Pace University in New York earlier this year.
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"In addition to more than 10 years of directing experience, he is also certified to teach theater to grades K-12, which will be a great benefit to our education programs we offer at the theater," Trevino said.
With Autrey on board, Trevino expects Backstage Theatre will expand its children's theater programming by creating more opportunities for local youth to participate than ever before. Autrey's first day will be Oct. 22.
His first day will coincide with a theater board meeting, also scheduled for Oct. 22, which Trevino told council will focus on crafting a new strategic plan for the theater, "a big portion" of which will focus on the structure of the board, its executive committee, board development and reviewing its bylaws.
"I find the board to be knowledgeable, extremely interested in the success of the theater and involved, not only as donors but also as volunteers," Trevino said Wednesday. "I have been very pleased with the board, but I feel there needs some additional structure around the executive committee and how the officer positions rotate, what the term limits would be and then grow the board to add a couple additional, key members."
She lauded the diversity on the 12-member board with seven women and five men — a good mix of working people and retirees, long-time locals and second-home owners, and people who have children involved with the theater.
Addressing council, Trevino also said that the 2018 fiscal year was good for the theater financially and more can be done on that front. To weather economic downturns, she'd like for the theater to build a reserve fund with $100,000 in it, just so the nonprofit is well positioned in case the economy changes.
"So I think what I'd like you to know is what you can expect from Nathan and I is a fresh approach," Trevino continued. "We're both very enthusiastic about the theater and about its future, and we want it to be very successful. We're really thrilled to be a part of it and a part of the town."
Both Trevino and Autrey look forward to forming strong, long-lasting relationships with other organizations in the arts community and the town as a whole, she added, as they both build lives in Breckenridge.
"We just really feel fortunate to be part of the Backstage Theatre, and we appreciate the council's and town's continued support of the theater," she told town council. "I know it's been a lot of changes over the past year — that I've read about and heard about, and I know you've experienced — and I think we're going to have a fabulous 45th season."
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect that Nathan Autrey graduated from the University of North Texas, not the University of Texas.