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With a Bold Vision for Cardinal Stage Company, New Artistic Director Kate Galvin Starts Leadership Role with ‘Peter Pan’ by Benjamin Beane

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Peter Pan surveys the Bloomington sunrise from atop the Monroe County Courthouse during a Blueline photo shoot.

Peter Pan surveys the Bloomington sunrise from atop the Monroe County Courthouse during a Blueline photo shoot.

“It’s been baptism by fire, for sure,” said Kate Galvin, Cardinal Stage Company’s new artistic director. “I stepped in at the busiest time of year, with a huge production already in progress — rehearsals [for Peter Pan] started the day after I arrived.”

Kate Galvin, Cardinal Stage Company's new artistic director.

Kate Galvin, Cardinal Stage Company’s new artistic director.

Galvin has been on the job for just over a month, taking over for founding artistic director Randy White. And despite coming in at a bustling time (Peter Pan, the company’s family holiday musical, hits the Buskirk-Chumley stage December 15-30), she has already begun implementing her own ideas and plans for the future.

One of Galvin’s immediate interests is creating opportunities for local actors to continue training. Catalyzed by a lack of options for actors who have graduated from college and wish to continue improving, Galvin is working on launching acting classes for adults this winter, as well as workshops that will coincide with Cardinal Stage’s spring productions.

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Galvin’s extensive background in theater has prepared her for such an exciting transition into her new role. For the past five years, she has worked as a regional director and associate producer at Philadelphia’s 11th Hour Theatre Company, where she produced, as she put it, “intimate” musicals such as The Last Five Years. While at 11th Hour, she created the Musical Theatre Lab, comprising local writers and composers who promoted new, onstage music.

In addition, Galvin spent seven years as the casting director for the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, where she produced classic shows such as Les Misérables and The Producers during the Mainstage Series, as well as smaller shows in its studio, such as Proof and Doubt, A Parable. Galvin also has experience directing small- and large-scale productions, including the play Other Desert Cities with Walnut Street Theatre and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street with North Dakota State University Theatre.

Peter Pan’s shadow has been spotted at local businesses around Bloomington, such as the one pictured here in the display window at Global Gifts on the downtown square.

Peter Pan’s shadow has been spotted at local businesses around Bloomington, such as the one pictured here in the display window at Global Gifts on the downtown square.

“The breadth of my experience, as a director and producer, makes me well positioned to step into an artistic director role at a company of Cardinal’s size,” said Galvin. “This seemed like a great next step for my career, and I was excited by the prospect of helping this company to grow.”

Under Galvin’s creative leadership, Cardinal Stage has also recently appointed directors for two of its Mainstage shows. Scott Weinstein, an award-winning director based in Chicago, will take on Sex With Strangers, running February 9-25 at the Ivy Tech Waldron Auditorium. Jesse Bernstein, a friend of Galvin’s from Philadelphia, will lead The Complete History of Comedy (Abridged), which will play March 30-April 15 at the same location.

On top of handling tasks such as hiring creative teams and casting, Galvin will also guest direct the Cardinal for Kids musical production of Robin Hood, which will run May 4-20 at the Ivy Tech Waldron Auditorium. Galvin unknowingly prepared for her Cardinal Stage directorial debut by catching a production of this adaptation by the Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia a few years ago, describing it as “a lot of fun.”

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Actor Emma Rosenthal makes her Cardinal Stage debut as Peter Pan.

Actor Emma Rosenthal makes her Cardinal Stage debut as Peter Pan.

“That’s one of the things that makes this show great — it’s fun for adults as well as kids!” said Galvin. “I think the most important thing about directing and producing theater for young audiences is to treat the material and the audience with the same care and respect you would give any other piece of theater.” 

Along with directing Robin Hood this spring, Galvin is also interested in focusing on community engagement through Cardinal Stage productions and has a variety of ideas on how to do this, such as pay-what-you-can dress rehearsals, which would offer audience members a chance to see the creative process behind the stage production, as well as establishing partnerships with non-theatrical organizations. For example, Cardinal Stage has already partnered with Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard for its production of Robin Hood.

Replacing Randy White is no easy task. The Cardinal Stage founder was the maestro of the organization for ten years. Luckily, Galvin has had the opportunity to ask White about his creative process, the Cardinal audience base, and specifics about shows.

“I think that our values are aligned when it comes to priorities — producing high quality theater for the Bloomington community and finding ways to cultivate a lifelong love of the art form,” said Galvin. “My goal is to make incremental changes both onstage and backstage, which will help Cardinal continue to grow into a well-respected regional theater company.”

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The first play to run under Galvin’s leadership will be Peter Pan. The production, directed by Aimee Turner, will feature Chicago-based actor Emma Rosenthal as The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, as well as Cardinal Stage veteran Mike Price as Captain Hook. And, of course, there will be pixie dust and flying!

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