Tony Adams, former artistic director of Chicago’s Halcyon Theatre, has been hired as Opera House Arts’ new executive director. KARL CLIFTON-SODERSTROM PHOTO

Opera House Arts’ new director started this week



STONINGTON — Tony Adams, former artistic director of Chicago’s Halcyon Theatre from 2006 to 2019, began work Monday as Opera House Arts’ new executive director. Adams was among more than 100 candidates who applied for the job. He succeeds Per Janson, who resigned last July. The plan is to hire a part-time director of artistic programs too.

Both Adams and his wife, Jennifer, co-founded the nonprofit Halcyon Theatre, an innovative theater ensemble, in Chicago’s Albany Park Neighborhood. The Adamses strived to make their theater’s stage “as diverse as the city of Chicago — presenting new voices from inadequately represented communities and recasting classic works to showcase their contemporary relevance.”

Adams successfully raised funds via special events and grants. He mentored emerging artists and co-created a seven-year festival of female playwrights. As part of that quest, he forged partnerships with community and cultural organizations in the Latinx, African-American and Asian-American communities that comprise Albany Park.

“Tony will be a strong business leader to take Opera House Arts into its next iteration,” said Bill Anderson, chairman of Opera House Arts’ board of directors. “The pandemic created unforeseen challenges in the search process, particularly in our ability to bring candidates to the island, and we’re very grateful to the nine members of the search committee who worked tirelessly for months to be sure we located the best fit for OHA and for the island.”

Adams brings 20 years of experience in fundraising, budgeting, marketing and communications, including: analytics and data management. He also has expertise in public relations, grant-writing, advertising, video planning and execution, graphic design, photography and web development. 

“Tony Adams is a community-minded leader with many years of experience in the performing arts,” said Shoni Currier, director of the Bates Dance Festival, who knew Adams while working in Chicago. “I’ve seen him rally artists and audiences together in his roles in Chicago as well as at TempoArt in Portland. He’ll bring exciting ideas to the Opera House!”

Adams says learning about Opera House Arts and its evolution has been inspiring. 

“It [Stonington Opera House] has served as a community anchor and gathering place for over 100 years. I grew up in a fairly rural area that didn’t have anything like OHA,” he said. “I know how big of a hole there would be without the Opera House. I love the wide range of artistic and community programs and knowing there is something to welcome everyone. That is not true everywhere.”

Adams, Opera House Arts staff and the OHA Board aim to bring to the Stonington Opera House, Burnt Cove Church Community Center, the Stonington ballfield, the schools and other community venues a calendar of performances and programs to touch the hearts and minds of current and new audience members.

The larger-than-normal search committee represented the diversity of the island communities and was co-chaired by OHA Board members Grace Gregor and Ray McCaskey. Committee members included Kathleen Billings, Galen Koch, Bob Lasky, John Lincoln, John McVeigh, Ron Stegall and Nancy Wilson. Wilson also chairs OHA’s Community Advisory Board.

To learn more about Adams, watch for an upcoming interview in OHA’s “Coffee on the Couch” series at operahousearts.org. 

Additional information about the new executive director will continue to be made available there.

Opera House Arts is embarking on its 22nd consecutive summer season in 2021. Tickets for all summer events, including movies, will go on sale shortly and be available only online, in accordance with the theater’s COVID-19 policies and enhancements. 

PHOTO CAPTION:  TONY ADAMS, a Chicago-based theater professional most recently working in Portland, Maine, will become Opera House Arts’ fourth Executive Director April 5. Adams will be joined by a new, part-time Director of Artistic Programs later this year. 

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