Mary Catherine Burke Appointed Artistic Director


May 15, 2017

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Cape Fear Regional Theatre Names Mary Catherine Burke New Artistic Director

Fayetteville, NC — May 15, 2017 — Cape Fear Regional Theatre (CFRT) is pleased to announce that Mary Catherine Burke has been named the company’s new Artistic Director effective July 1. An extensive national search, which included applications from more than 85 candidates, was conducted by professional arts consultant Georgann Eubanks and the search committee comprised of CFRT’s Board of Trustees. The committee, in turn then involved, CFRT staff, as well as members of the Fayetteville community and Founding Artistic Director Bo Thorp. Burke will become the theatre’s third Artistic Director in its 55-year history.

“It is a testament to the national reputation of our founding artistic director Bo Thorp and the influence of former A.D. Tom Quaintance that Fayetteville drew such a deep pool of candidates,” said Jason Poole, President of the CFRT Board and Chair of the Search Committee.

Burke, a Connecticut native, is a graduate of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.  She joins CFRT after nearly 20 years of experience as a Director, Dramaturge, Assistant Director, and Artistic Director.  She got her start as an Assistant Director to film legend Arthur Penn (director of Bonnie & Clyde and The Miracle Worker).  She worked with Penn on the two-time TONY-Award-winning Broadway production of Fortune’s Fool.  She also assistant directed for Jonathan Lynn (My Cousin Vinny, Clue, and The Whole Nine Yards) on the off-Broadway production of A Mother. A Daughter. And A Gun. starring Olympia Dukakis.

She comes to CFRT from Dede Harris Productions, a six-time, TONY Award-winning commercial producing office.  In addition to working in the field of commercial theatre, Burke has extensive experience working at not-for-profits.  She served as the Director of Programming for the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF), the largest musical theatre festival in the United States.  NYMF was the launching pad for the Pulitzer Prize-winning Next to Normal and the Broadway productions of Title of Show, In Transit, and Chaplin.

“We found in Mary Kate the unusual combination of a strong familiarity with the business side of theatre, a deep knowledge of best practices backstage, and diverse theatrical experience–both in smaller theatres and on Broadway,” Poole said.

“The Fayetteville community is so passionate about CFRT and I am thrilled to join the team. I look forward to continuing to create opportunities to foster the local and regional talent pool in North Carolina.” Burke said. “I am also excited to bring my national contacts to the region in order to produce seasons that balance family friendly shows with works that spark important community conversations.”

“We believe Mary Kate will be a good fit for Fayetteville going forward as the arts continue to advance community and economic development.” Poole said. “Mary Kate also has a real drive to work with local youth, which we were hoping to find.”

Burke spearheaded the effort to create autism friendly performances for the children’s series at NYMF, and raised foundation funding to underwrite these performances. Before that Burke was Producing Artistic Director for three seasons at Millbrook Playhouse in Mill Hall, Pennsylvania.  As a director, her work has taken her across the country to Texas, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Oregon and New York.

“I am particularly passionate about expanding the educational programming and introducing children to theatre.  The tools children learn in the arts–from navigating group dynamics, to making creative choices, to problem solving–are all invaluable skills.” Burke said. “The best regional theatre is a driver of the economy and tourism, nurtures and develops local talent, exposes the community to national talent, and tells great stories. Theatre reminds us to have empathy and listen while being entertained and inspired. The next season at CFRT will continue to build on 55 years of excellence!”

Burke, who will begin this summer, succeeds Tom Quaintance, who left CFRT last fall to assume the helm at Virginia Stage Company. Bryan Conger, former associate artistic director at Triad Stage in Greensboro, served as the interim A.D. “We are grateful for Bryan’s leadership and guidance over the past eight months since Tom’s departure.  He has paved the road for a smooth transition for Mary Kate.” Said Poole.


About Cape Fear Regional Theatre

Since 1962, Cape Fear Regional Theatre (CFRT) has served as a place for the diverse community of Fayetteville (home of Fort Bragg and the 82nd Airborne) and the broader region to come together to laugh harder, think deeper, share experiences and grow as a community through the power of live theatre. CFRT features a three-story complex with a 309 seat main stage and brings in actors, writers and designers from throughout the country. CFRT’s six-show mainstage season and robust education and outreach programs serve over 42,000 audience members a year from all ages and varying socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds including nearly 7,000 students from around the region.