A New York theater producer who helped shepherd two Tony-winning Broadway shows has been picked to run the business side of Utah’s Pioneer Theatre Company.
Christopher Massimine will become PTC’s managing director starting July 1, the theater company announced Monday.
Massimine, at a news conference Monday, said he aims to work with PTC’s artistic director, Karen Azenberg, to “engineer a bridge that will unite Pioneer and the University [of Utah] with the nation as a leading arts ambassador and a chief example of power of community.”
Massimine, 32, will take the job that has been filled for 28 years by Chris Lino, who announced last year he is retiring. Lino’s last day is June 30.
“It’s an all-but-impossible task to replace Chris,” said Dan Lofgren, chairman of the board of PTC’s trustees.
Lino’s announcement prompted a 10-month national search. “We set our sights very high,” Lofgren said. “We were looking for someone who had demonstrated the capacity to take the institution to the next level."
In a statement, PTC’s artistic director, Karen Azenberg, called Massimine “a creative business leader who brings skills and a set of experiences that will help ensure our continued growth in a changing professional theatre environment.”
Azenberg said Massamine is “just the right person to continue the journey in the evolution of Pioneer Theatre Company. Chris and I share a similar vision, and a great combination of complementary skills, and a similar sense of humor, I think — and this may or may not be a good thing.”
Massimine said Pioneer has the capacity to build its national profile, possibly creating and developing productions on their way to Broadway. Pioneer, he said, can be more than "the vehicle to take [productions] to other places, [but] also this the place that people want to bring things as well.”
“The important thing is to remember that, at the heart, it is a theater of community,” Massimine said. “There’s a lot of work to be done, a lot of good to show for what theater can do.”
Since 2013, Massimine, 32, has been executive producer of the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, the longest continuously producing Yiddish theater company in the world. NYTF made headlines last summer when it produced a Yiddish-language translation of the classic musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” directed by Tony and Oscar winner Joel Grey.
In 2017, NYTF and Massimine were credited as producers on Paula Vogel’s play “Indecent,” which recounted the controversy around a Yiddish play that was shut down on Broadway in 1923 on the grounds of obscenity. “Indecent” was nominated for a Tony for Best Play, and won Tonys for Rachel Taichman’s direction and Christopher Akerlind’s lighting design.
Massimine received his first Tony nomination in 2010, as one of the producers of “American Idiot,” the musical based on Green Day’s acclaimed punk-rock album. “American Idiot” won Tonys for scenic design and lighting design.
Massimine is married; his wife, Maggie, is vice president at a New York engineering firm. The couple has four cats and a dog, who are getting acclimated to the idea of moving to Utah, he said.
“I fell in love with [Utah] literally the moment I landed,” Massimine said. “I look around everywhere, and people say, ‘Some of these are hills, and some of these are mountains.’ For me, coming from New York, they’re all mountains.”