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TUTS and Its Artistic Director Part Ways, New Artistic Adviser Brought In

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Theatre Under the Stars Artistic Director Bruce Lumpkin and TUTS have parted ways, it was confirmed today.

Jeff Cleveland, who described himself as an independent marketing consultant brought in to help TUTS through its “transition,” said the announcement was made at an internal staff meeting this morning. No public release of the news was made.

What was made public was a TUTS press release announcing a new “artistic advisor,” Sheldon Epps, who will be in charge of the Houston-based theater company during its transition. According to the press release, Epps has been artistic director of the Pasadena Playhouse since 1997.

Asked for specifics about the changes, Cleveland declined to answer other than to say that TUTS Underground will continue and that new information will be released once it is decided upon.

When Lumpkin came in as artistic director in August 2012, he made it a priority to attract younger audiences and came up with the concept of the alternative TUTS Underground with its generally edgier themes and lower ticket prices.

As for Epps, according to the press release:

Before beginning his tenure at The Playhouse, he served as Associate Artistic Director of the Old Globe Theatre for four years. He was also a co-founder of the off-Broadway theatre, The Production Company. Epps has directed both plays and musicals at many of the country’s major theatres including the Roundabout, Manhattan Theatre Club, the Guthrie, Playwrights Horizons, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Arena Stage, and the Goodman Theatre. He conceived the highly acclaimed musicals Play On! and Blues In the Night, which both received Tony Award nominations. He directed productions of both of those shows on Broadway, in London, and at theatres around the world.

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