Stafford Arima Joins Theatre Calgary as Artistic Director in April

Theatre Calgary’s Board of Directors have announced Stafford Arima as the new Artistic Director of Theatre Calgary. Mr. Arima will become the 12th Artistic Director in the theatre’s 49-year history on April 3, 2017.

Stafford Arima. Photo by Lia Chang
Stafford Arima. Photo by Lia Chang
Stafford Arima and Lea Salonga on the Longacre Theatre after a performance of ALLEGIANCE in New York on February 13, 2016. Photo by Lia Chang
Stafford Arima and Lea Salonga on the Longacre Theatre after a performance of ALLEGIANCE in New York on February 13, 2016. Photo by Lia Chang

Born and raised in Toronto, Arima has thrived in the New York theatre scene for nearly 20 years, and he became the first Asian Canadian to direct a musical on Broadway when Allegiance opened on November 8, 2015 at the Longacre Theatre, starring George Takei and Lea Salonga. He was also nominated for an Olivier Award for his direction of 2004’s West End premiere of the musical, Ragtime, and his production received eight nominations including Best Musical.

Some of his other directing credits include productions of Altar Boyz, Carrie (MCC Theater), The Secret Garden – In Concert (Lincoln Center), Two Class Acts (The Flea Theater), The Tin Pan Alley Rag (Roundabout Theatre Company), Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living In Paris (Stratford Festival), Abyssinia (Goodspeed Musicals), A Tribute to Sondheim (Boston Pops), and Guys and Dolls (Paper Mill Playhouse). Arima has also shepherded new musical development at the Toronto Fringe Festival, New York Musical Theatre Festival, National Alliance for Musical Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, New York Stage and Film, and the SPF Festival. He is a graduate of York University, where he was the recipient of the Dean’s Prize for Excellence in Creative Work. Arima also serves as Artistic Advisor for the Broadway Dreams Foundation, and is an Adjunct Professor at UC Davis.

“It is with great honour and immeasurable excitement that I begin this new adventure as artistic director at Theatre Calgary,” says Arima. “This journey to Calgary is a homecoming for me. After two decades based in New York City, my return to Canada gives me immense pride. I am eager to participate in Calgary’s fervent artistic spirit, and continue the tradition of bold storytelling and impactful theatre that moves, touches and inspires this city’s audiences. As Calgary knows, this theatre has achieved immense success under the former artistic leadership of Dennis Garnhum,” acknowl­edges Arima. “I am thrilled to oversee Interim Artistic Director Shari Wattling’s recently announced season marking our 50th Anniversary, and partner with the board of directors, and the entire staff and crew, to present these eclectic works to our audiences. I am anxious to begin the process of guiding the company through its next phase of growth. Our theatre will forever be a home that reflects the communities, the country, and the world we live in – a diverse, complex, stimulating world.”

Chadwick Newcombe, Chairman of the Board, is thrilled to welcome Arima. “Theatre Calgary has come a long way over the past half-century, and I am ecstatic that Stafford will be leading us into our next 50 years. The Board could not ask for a more qualified individual to provide artistic leadership, as Stafford’s vision, experience, expertise, charisma and dedication are, in a word, inspirational,” says Newcombe. “In hiring Stafford, the Board has reaffirmed that Theatre Calgary intends to stand amongst the best theatre companies in the world, while remaining committed to entertaining and inspiring Calgarians, as we reach out to welcome new audiences. I am sure that Calgary will quickly admire him as much as we do.”

Executive Director Colleen A. Smith echoes the excitement. “Theatre Calgary is indeed fortunate to welcome an artist of Stafford’s caliber. Our organization recently adopted a bold new strategic plan that envisioned our company creating work that is inclusive, innovative, and meaningful,” says Smith. “I couldn’t be more excited to lead Theatre Calgary towards this vision with Stafford and with the support of our incredible team and community. The Board has made an excellent and inspiring choice. The future is bright.”

Arima is currently directing the San Diego premiere of Lolita Chakrabarti’s play Red Velvet at The Old Globe.

ALLEGIANCE, Starring George Takei, Lea Salonga and Telly Leung, Is Back In Canadian Cinemas on February 19

Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

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