Director Paige Price leaving Theatre Aspen | AspenTimes.com

Director Paige Price leaving Theatre Aspen

Paige Price

Theatre Aspen executive artistic director Paige Price, who has transformed the local company in her 10 years at its helm, is leaving the nonprofit this spring.

Price has accepted a post as producing artistic director of Philadelphia Theatre Co., where she will begin April 1.

"It was a really hard decision," Price, who will stay on as a consultant through Theatre Aspen's summer season, said Tuesday. "It was a sad and happy decision — it's not that I'm leaving something that's not working, or somewhere that I'm not happy."

But the opportunity in Philadelphia, she said, was too good to pass up.

Price pointed to the local company's epic 2013 production of "Les Miserables" and the creation of the Theatre Aspen Apprentice program as highlights of her tenure, along with the Herculean task of getting the permanent Hurst Theatre built in Rio Grande Park and partnering with the city of Aspen to revamp the surrounding wetlands.

Before the company's 30th anniversary in 2013, Price spearheaded a successful $2 million capital campaign that paid to replace Theatre Aspen's notoriously dilapidated tent and pulled the company out of debt. The Theatre Aspen Apprentice program, now in its fifth year, brings college theater students from around the U.S. to work alongside professionals during the summer. She also created the Aspen Theatre Fest, now in its third year, which workshops new plays and musicals here at summer's end.

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In her time with Theatre Aspen, Price helped give the small regional company a national profile, producing Broadway-caliber shows in its intimate tent space and making it a summertime magnet for Broadway actors. Last year, the company won eight Henry Awards from the Colorado Theatre Guild — making it the most honored company statewide. In 2009, it won the Outstanding Regional Theatre prize.

"Her vision and commitment have brought Theatre Aspen to new levels, and we look forward to building on this foundation," Theatre Aspen board President Kimberly Schlosser said in an announcement. "We are very proud of Paige and wish her the absolute best in her new role."

While running Theatre Aspen, Price has split her time between here and New York, where she serves as first vice president of the Actors' Equity Association. Last year, she served on the Tony Awards nominating committee.

She joined Theatre Aspen before the summer 2008 season. Previously, she had been a Broadway actress and producer. Last winter, she memorably reunited with Broadway star Susan Egan — who Price understudied on Broadway as Belle in the original cast of "Beauty and the Beast" — to perform a duet during a concert at the Wheeler Opera House.

While working here, Price said, the holistic approach of the Aspen Idea rubbed off on her as an artist and administrator.

"I learned you do the best work when you create a place where people feel taken care of, where they have fun," she said. "That 'mind, body, spirit' thing really works in theater."

Price is currently casting the company's summer productions of "Hairspray," "Sex With Strangers" and "The World According to Snoopy." She's also been recruiting the 2017 apprentice class.

The nonprofit's recently hired associate artistic director, Markus Potter, is expected to run the company through its busy summer season while its board of directors searches for Price's permanent replacement. Potter is a New York-based director and producer.

Price said she has high hopes for continued success at Theatre Aspen.

"It's going to draw leaders and go places that we may never have imagined," she said.

atravers@aspentimes.com

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