Stratford's current second-in-command is now its chief.
Antoni Cimolino, the general director of one of North America's largest classical companies, has been named its new artistic director. He takes over from current A.D., Des McAnuff, for the 2013 season.
"Today I am being asked to make a new and deeper contribution to the Stratford Festival," said Cimolino in a statement. "I'm thrilled and honoured. I'm indebted to the Artistic Directors who came before me - many of whom I've had the pleasure to work with and learn from. I must particularly thank the late Richard Monette for his mentorship and Des McAnuff for his support.
Cimolino's association with Stratford goes back a quarter century; he joined the company in 1988 to play Romeo opposite Megan Follows's Juliet.
Since then he has been a constant presence, mostly behind the scenes, co-directing Richard Monette's 1995 production of The Merry Wives Of Windsor, directing the first ever North American professional production of Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair (in 2009) and helming last season's fine The Grapes Of Wrath.
In February, he directed the sold-out Canadian premiere of the controversial musical Enron for Theatre Calgary. Hmm.. maybe that means it'll come to Stratford soon?
McAnuff's shoes are going to be pretty hard to fill. After all, he's the extroverted, splashy director of Broadway musicals like Jersey Boys and The Who's Tommy. He helped bring three of the festival's biggest hits - including Caesar And Cleopatra, starring Christopher Plummer - to Cineplex movie theatres. And his production of last season's monster hit, Jesus Christ Superstar, opens officially on Broadway later this month.
Cimolino's general director role has been more behind-the-scenes, administering its $60 million budget and 1000-person staff, renovating the Avon Theatre and establishing the intimate Studio Theatre.
He's also a lively presence on Twitter, where his handle is @antoni_ssf. He tweets about professional stuff - seeing shows everywhere from New York City to London - but also jokes around. For Leap Day he tweeted: "I support this ‘leap year' concept but I wonder why the extra day couldn't be in July? Or May? I like May."
It's no surprise that right before this morning's announcement of Cimolino's appointment, Stratford released a statement saying the festival ended the year with a $50,000 surplus.
Balancing the books? Not a bad skill to have in tough economic times.
Let's just hope that, under Cimolino's reign, some great theatre's on the spreadsheet as well.