July 12, 2016
Dear friend of Theatrical Outfit,
We have completed our 2015-16 Season of Courage, and you should know that your commitment to T.O. paid off. I hope you’ll find the following news inspiring.
This season, Theatrical Outfit produced 3 musicals, a solo drama, and a world premier, hiring more actors in the process than any other season in its history (73, compared to 23 artists in 2014-15). More patrons passed through our doors too, with 60% more subscribers than last year. In November, Theatrical Outfit was nominated for more Suzi Bass Awards than any other theater company but one, and Memphis, our co-production with Aurora Theatre, was nominated for more Suzi awards than any other show in its category. In fact, the season was filled with critical acclaim from start to finish.
Audiences responded to our transformation as much as critics did. At the box office, the 2015-2016 season was the highest-grossing season in Theatrical Outfit’s 40 year history, doubling 2014-2015 revenue. As incredible as that is, you know better than most that ticket sales alone can’t cover the cost of the sort of change that T.O. is undertaking. I’m pleased to say that, like you, so many in our community stepped up during the season, donating [x%] more than was received in the prior fiscal year. Those donations, plus the strong sales I mentioned, meant that Theatrical Outfit ended in the black once again this year
Now is not the time to slow down, and the team is hard at work producing T.O.’s next season: the 2016-2017 Season of Hope. Actors are already in rehearsals for our season opener, In the Heights by Hamilton creator and star Lin Manuel-Miranda. That will be followed by Thurgood, a solo drama about Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, running in October at the peak of this year’s national political and social discourse. Artistic Director Tom Key is also hard at work planning Big Fish, the musical fantasy based on the eponymous novel and film, starring celebrated Atlanta actor Travis Smith (Huey Calhoun from Memphis). Then, Dad’s Garage Artistic Director Kevin Gillese will direct Tom’s adaptation of Walker Percy’s existential romp Lost in the Cosmos. In the spring, we’ll experience the stirring life and turbulent times of Nina Simone in Simply Simone, a stylistic musical following the superstar and activist through all stages of her life. And we’ll close the season with The Dancing Handkerchief, a musical co-production with Adam Koplan’s Flying Carpet Theatre featuring the music of Robert Lopez (of Frozen, Book of Mormon, and Avenue Q fame).
It’s another big season, marked by great partnerships, heavy hitters, and incredible stories. 2016-2017 doubles down on our strategy of attracting new audiences to T.O., while staying true to our mission and vision. Just as we did this past season, I have every confidence that we will surpass expectations this year; it’s a confidence that stems in large part from the incredible partnership of Tom Key and Managing Director Lee Foster. They lead the best team in town, and there’s no limit to what that team can accomplish when paired with people like you. Your support is absolutely critical to making this organization work – the passion and talent that abound at T.O. thrive because of friends like you.
On behalf of the entire board of trustees, I can’t thank you enough. Thank you for taking this ride toward long-term sustainability with us, and we look forward to seeing you at the Balzer Theater for many years to come.
Chairman of the Board of Trustees