Brendan Ragan arrived at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre as its new artistic director last month and already he’s overseeing the theater’s most ambitious musical to date, Ragtime.
No problem, he says. This 20-year veteran of the theater world has produced more than 50 professional plays, three new play festivals, and countless developmental workshops and staged readings.
Ragtime opened last week to rave reviews and confirms what drives Ragan: there is “insatiable joy in bringing powerful storytelling to the stage.”
Ragan came to Metropolis after a nationwide search. He had been the founding Co-Artistic Director of the Urbanite Theatre, based in Sarasota, FL, known for producing bold, new works. In taking the job, Ragan comes to the vibrant Chicago-area theater scene, where he is immersed in a wide range of productions at Metropolis.
“Blending my experience with challenging new work, with the productions that delight Arlington Heights, will be a great thrill for audiences and artists alike,” Ragan says. “We are going to tell wonderful stories with the highest degree of professionalism.”
Ragan first met Metropolis fans on April 29, at the theater’s gala celebration. All eyes were on him as he ramped up excitement for the most anticipated announcement of the evening: its new season for next year. He had the audience in his hand when he described the opening show, the Addams Family, opening Sept. 14; A Christmas Carol, opening Nov. 30; 9 to 5 the Musical, opening May 2; and Million Dollar Quartet, opening July 11.
“Metropolis has been making a tremendous impact in Arlington Heights for over 20 years,” Ragan says. “However, it became clear to me right away that the organization is much more than a neighborhood theater.
“From the important endeavors at the School of the Performing Arts to the many exciting, presented works throughout the year,” he adds, “Metropolis has the rare merit of being not just a professional theater but a vital cultural center.”
Ragan is a native of Colorado, who throughout the last 20 years has worked as an actor, producer and director, from Colorado to Baltimore to Florida, and now in Arlington Heights.
“I think there is no better way to entertain, engage and ignite a community than by sharing real space through live theatre,” he says. “It’s not the theatre’s job to tell us what to think or feel, but rather to help us uncover the new ideas that will shape the world we live in.”