Guild Hall in East Hampton has announced that after 21 years at the helm of the John Drew Theater, artistic director Josh Gladstone has decided to pursue new creative opportunities at the end of 2021. A national search will be launched to find his successor.
“Josh started with us at the tender age of 32 and has spent the last two decades making the John Drew Theater a magnet for artists and audiences,” said executive director Andrea Grover. “His rare quadruple threat as a director, producer, actor, and manager has been the key to the success of our theater program today. Though we are excited for him and the new opportunities he plans to pursue, he will be greatly missed.”
After co-founding The Hamptons Shakespeare Festival with David M. Brandenburg in 1996, Gladstone joined Guild Hall in April 2000, invited by board chair Mickey Straus and then executive director Ruth Appelhof. Gladstone and his wife, the actor and director Kate Mueth, packed up their infant son August and relocated from Brooklyn to Springs where they spent many wonderful years actively involved with the Springs School community, teaching Shakespeare, coaching Little League, and making theater happen in offsite and adventurous locations like the Mulford Barn Rep, East Hampton Studios, Halloween Haunted Walks (including two spooky years at Ghouled Hall!), and outdoor, theatrical Zima scavenger hunts in Montauk and Springs with Mueth’s company, the Neo Political Cowgirls.
Gladstone and Mueth kept the Shakespearean torch burning brightly for many years at Guild Hall, including celebrated productions in the early 2000s of Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard and two productions of Romeo & Juliet in 2001 and again in 2017, all of which joyfully engaged Equity guest artists, local professional actors, and dozens of students working on stage and behind the scenes. It was through these and similar projects that Gladstone assembled a longstanding team of dedicated theater practitioners including Sebastian Paczynski, Jennifer Brondo, Corey Jane Cardoso, Tina Jones, and many others who remain involved with the life of the John Drew today.
Over the course of more than 21 years, Gladstone had a hand in producing and presenting hundreds of performing arts programs at the intimate John Drew Theater, playing host to thousands of artists and entertaining tens of thousands of audience members from the community and around the globe. Some highlights from his producing career include productions directed by Tony Walton of “Moby Dick Rehearsed” starring Peter Boyle, “Tonight at 8:30” starring Blythe Danner, and “Equus” starring Alec Baldwin, with whom Gladstone also worked on “All My Sons” (co-starring Laurie Metcalf) as well as many developmental readings in which he performed and directed (featuring such co-stars as Blair Underwood, Mercedes Ruehl, James Earl Jones and F. Murray Abraham).
Gladstone fostered relationships with area artists ranging from local beginners to world class masters, and created a welcoming atmosphere of true love and support for the creative process. Some of his most consistent collaborators have included Harris Yulin (producing, along with dozens of celebrity staged readings, Yulin’s production of “The Glass Menagerie” starring Amy Irving which re-opened the Drew after it’s 2009 renovation); Joy Behar; Taylor Barton & GE Smith’s Portraits; Lee Davis’s American Musical Theatre Salutes; Ron Delsener’s concerts; the New York City Ballet; the NY Philharmonic; Gene Pack’s Celebrity Autobiography; Hamptons Film; and more recently, works with Bob Balaban, Susan Stroman, and The Hamptons Dance Project.
Gladstone was integral in launching several ongoing series at Guild Hall including the JDT Lab for new, developmental work; the Guitar Masters mini-festival; Questlove’s Conversations on Creativity; the Summer Spectaculars that launched earlier seasons with headliners like The Beach Boys, Martin Short, Mandy Patinkin and Patti Lupone, Jay Leno, Audra McDonald, Liza Minelli and Steve Martin; and the consistently popular Met Opera Live in HD program. Gladstone is particularly proud of working closely with technical director Sebastian Paczynski to create the John Drew Backyard Theater, where a slate of intimate programs was presented outdoors last summer during the height of the pandemic; as well as the John Drew Virtual Theater, where Gladstone, assistant technical director Patrick Dawson and virtual stage manager Amanda Kate Joshi were able to generate online content that featured performances by Alec Baldwin, Julianne Moore, Susie Essman, Paul Hecht, Dava Sobel, Austin Pendleton, Salman Rushdie and longtime collaborators Yulin and Ruehl, among many others.
“It’s been an honor to fill the stage with two decades of soaring joy, gorgeous music, gut-wrenching pathos, sublime beauty and above all, laughter,” said Gladstone. “I’m proud of what our team has accomplished, and even as I move towards new creative adventures in my own life, I’m genuinely thrilled by what comes next at Guild Hall, where the stage is now set for wildly inventive and innovative performing arts programming that will no doubt shine brightly, as presented by a new generation of arts leadership. I look forward to taking a seat with you in the audience at the next opening night, always applauding, cherishing and cheering loudly for Guild Hall.”
“The Guild Hall board of trustees thanks Josh for his decades of delighting East End audiences. We wish him well in this new chapter of his career.” shared Chairman Marty Cohen.