Stephen Santa Named Artistic Director of Omaha Community Playhouse

Omaha, NE–The Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) is excited to announce that Stephen Santa will be joining the organization as the new artistic director beginning on November 1, 2021. Susan Baer Collins, former OCP associate artistic director, has been acting as interim artistic director since January. Collins will work with Santa during the transition.

Santa, currently based out of Pittsburgh, PA, is a seasoned director, educator and arts advocate who has dedicated much of his career to creating accessible theatre experiences for neurodivergent youth. He founded, and currently serves as the artistic director of, Jumping Jack Theater, a children’s theater company that produces new works for audiences with developmental disabilities and sensory sensitivities. In 2019, Santa received the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) Standout Moment Award for his work with Jumping Jack Theater, a national honor that recognizes outstanding contributions to the advancement of equity, diversity and inclusion in the theatre industry.

An alumni of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy of New York, Santa has directed over 50 musicals and numerous plays, including international festivals, off-Broadway, national tours, and regional theatre productions across the country. He was named one of Pittsburgh’s Top Directors by CBS Pittsburgh and has received awards and accolades for his productions of Avenue Q (Best Musical, BroadwayWorld Regional Awards; Best Local Stage Production, Pittsburgh City Paper), Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Best Local Stage Production, Pittsburgh City Paper) and Dani Girl (Five Stars, BroadwayBaby).

Santa’s international credits include work with Edinburgh Fringe. Off Broadway and New York City credits include work with Arts Nova and the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Regional credits include Pittsburgh Musical Theatre, Split Stage Productions, Sheboygan Theatre Company, Front Porch Theatricals, Park Productions, Throughline Theatre Company, The Gilbert Theatre, The Bald Theatre Company, The Cresson Lake Playhouse, Stage 62, South Park Theater, Mon River Arts, Little Lake Theatre, The Old Schoolhouse Players, and The Theatre Factory.

Santa served as assistant director for the national tour of Flashdance the Musical (directed by Sergio Trujillo), the North American premier of The Monster in the Hall (directed by Tracy Brigden), and Pop! (directed by Brad Rouse/choreographed by Billy Porter).

“We are so thrilled to have Stephen Santa joining our team,” said OCP Executive Director Katie Broman. “In addition to his exceptional resume, Stephen is incredibly passionate about serving his community through the arts.”

“I’m truly honored to join the Omaha Community Playhouse family as we blaze a new path into the future while honoring the exceptional legacy forged over the last century.” said Santa. “As the new artistic director, I am committed to a strong focus on DEIA progress, innovative educational pathways for all members of the community and producing entertaining, thought-provoking and memorable productions on our stages. We will continue to inspire all who step through the doors by immersing them in beautiful storytelling where every audience member can attend a production and see a reflection of themselves on stage.”

OCP Artistic Director Announces Departure

Omaha, NE.–After serving as artistic director for four-and-a-half years, Kimberly Faith Hickman has announced she is leaving her role at the Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) at the end of 2020. Hickman plans to return to OCP in spring of 2021 as a guest director for the highly anticipated production of Willy Wonka and to teach for OCP’s Henry Fonda Theatre Academy.

Susan Baer Collins will serve as the interim artistic director upon Hickman’s departure until OCP completes a nation-wide search for the organization’s next artistic director. Baer Collins held various positions on staff at OCP from 1987 to 2014, most notably associate artistic director. She also served as an interim artistic director at OCP from 2015 to 2016.

“I am very proud of the programmatic, artistic and educational growth that has occurred at OCP during the last four-and-a-half years,” said Hickman. “I have collaborated with incredible people, both onstage and off, and the Omaha Community Playhouse staff is among some of the best that I have worked with in my 18 years of working in theatre. I look forward to those collaborations continuing in this new capacity.”

“Kimberly brought an enormous amount of creativity and passion to OCP over the last four years,” said Katie Broman, Executive Director. “She has contributed so much to our organization in many positive ways. We appreciate all of her hard work, and we wish her the absolute best in any and all future endeavors.”

Hickman joined the OCP staff in 2016 and quickly became a driving force in the organization. In addition to programming four seasons and directing 19 productions, Hickman established the OCP Directing Fellowship, a program that provides up-and-coming directors the opportunity to gain valuable directing experience. She worked with Autism Action Partnership to develop sensory-friendly performances, designed to create a welcoming environment for those with autism spectrum disorders, sensory sensitivities and other special needs to experience live theatre. She coordinated Spanish-translated performances, offering real-time translation services during popular productions via headset. Hickman also rebranded OCP’s existing education department as the Henry Fonda Theatre Academy.

OCP will commence a nation-wide search for the organization’s new artistic director. “We are committed to hiring an artistic director who is both exceedingly talented and passionate about leading OCP into our next 100 years of service to the Omaha community,” Broman said. “We will seek the most qualified candidates who share OCP’s values of inclusivity, artistic and educational impact, excellence, stewardship and community.”