Meet the ‘dream team’ that’s transforming the Guthrie Theater

Abraham Lincoln had his cabinet of rivals. Neil Armstrong had mission control. Guthrie Theater creative director Joe Haj has actually developed a small but powerful team of all-stars who are highly sought-after leaders in their respective disciplines.

” If you’re a ballplayer and the Yankees call, you go,” said production director David Stewart. “And if you’re in theater and Joe Haj calls you to come join him at the Guthrie? Hell, yeah, you’re coming.”

Here is the Haj group, in their own words.

Anthony Souffle, Star Tribune

Guthrie’s associate creative director Jeff Meanza.

The playmaker: Jeffrey Meanza

His role: Associate creative director. Gregarious and playful, he runs the creative and educational departments. He’s been Haj’s right-hand male since 2007, when Haj ran PlayMakers Repertory Business in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Back story: Age 38. Matured in a Sicilian-American household in Modesto, Calif. Has a B.A. in theater and performance from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MFA in acting from the University of North Carolina. “I have a silliness about myself and try to hold on to that fact. We play dress-up and pretend. It’s gorgeous and incredibly proficient, however you have to hang on to that sense of play in the work.”

The trigger: ” I began doing theater when I was 5. I saw community theater productions of ‘Peter Pan’ and ‘Annie.’ When I saw Peter Pan fly, I stated, ‘I desire to do that.’ My parents were truly supportive. When I got to college, I aimed to make an accountable choice, so I studied city education and comparative literature. But then one day I came out to my moms and dads and said, ‘I desire do theater.’ They stated, ‘We kind of understood currently.'”

Profession:” I satisfied Joe in 2004 at PlayMakers Rep in a production of ‘King Lear.’ Joe was assistant director and I played the Duke of Albany. We struck it off and stayed good friends. When he took control of PlayMakers in 2007, I boiled down to go to a good friend in the acting company. Joe and I started talking. He invited me down, and my intention was to be there for a summer season. That summer ended up long lasting eight years. I had the ability to be an actor, director, teacher. It taught me so much about the field and establishing my own visual as a leader and producer.”

Getting to the Guthrie:He started work just one month after Haj, changing Dowling associate John Miller-Stephany. “I was shocked when I came here just how much of exactly what I knew lined up with this creative department.”

On Haj:” What Joe and I brought here was us. We have a way of dealing with each other, and are open and affable. He is the senior leader, however his door is open genuine, and he’s so friendly.”

Anthony Souffle, Star Tribune

Guthrie’s managing director Jennifer Bielstein.

The calculator: Jennifer Bielstein

Her role: Handling director. Cerebral and focused, she functions as primary operating officer to Haj’s CEO, supervising business operations.

Back story:Age 47. Born in Lubbock, Texas, “however we walked around a lot, following my daddy’s task.” (He operated in the oil industry as a chemical engineer.) A runner and ardent Prince fan, she has a B.A. in organisation and theater from the University of North Carolina and an MBA from Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky.

. The stimulate: ” I took a drama class and fell for the team effort of theater. I stage-managed, did all sort of things. But what it actually made me see was that I wished to do something I was going to be passionate about.”

Profession: She got her start in Chicago, running a dining establishment and then working at two little theaters “prior to my job was gotten rid of. I got on my bike and rode on over to the Lincoln Park Zoo, where I got a task.” After two years as subscription organizer– and launching a popular performance series at the zoo– she dived back into the stage world with Chicago’s legendary Steppenwolf Theatre, then managed a prominent regional business, Cast Theatre in Louisville, for 10 seasons.

Getting to the Guthrie: ” I chair the variety task force for the League of Homeowner Theatres [a nationwide company for regional theaters] Joe and I knew each other and had shared passions, however we never discussed interacting.” When the Guthrie employer’s call came, though, she leapt at the opportunity.

On Haj:” Joe says it wonderfully: When Tyrone Guthrie founded the theater, he was currently one of the most well-known directors in the world. The Guthrie began with a great deal of strengths, and we have the chance to come in, in year 53, and develop on that fantastic success.”

Anthony Souffle, Star Tribune

Guthrie’s development director Danielle St.Germain-Gordon.

The socialite: Danielle St. Germain-Gordon

Her role: Advancement director. Stylish and extremely social, she leads a nine-member group of fundraising events that has actually pulled in more than $50 million in her four years on the task.

Back story:Age 47. Born in Boston, “the youngest of 4 of a work-at-home mommy and a dental professional.” She has a degree in art history from Loyola Marymount University.

The stimulate:” I was raised in an arts-centric family. My moms and dads would take us to the Boston Pops, and we ‘d ask to get out of it. Now, all four of us are completely bought the arts. Everybody in this field can point to a teacher, and for me that was Sis Ursula, who had a liberal arts club at Ursuline Academy, with busts of all the Greek gods. She took us to see ‘Camelot.’ It was wonderful.”

Profession:In 2000, St. Germain-Gordon was living in Washington, D.C., when a “crappy telemarketing call” from the Shakespeare Theatre resulted in a job leading its call center. “So I’m working there, selling a lot of memberships, and I notice that a lot of the most well-dressed, fashionable girls are can be found in later on in the day. They remain in advancement. Mind you, I knew absolutely nothing of development, however I wished to be like them. So I persuaded [ the creative director] to provide me a shot. We raised tens of millions of dollars, and I discovered that not just can I do that, I enjoy it.”

Getting to the Guthrie:In early 2013, she was working at Arena Stage in D.C. when Joe Dowling called. “I said, ‘I’ll assist you discover someone.’ He stated, ‘Come take an appearance.’ I came out and saw ‘Good Fish’ and ‘Primrose Course.’ I thought it could be intriguing. Then I talked to a buddy, Ford Bell, who’s from here and loves this place to pieces. He said, ‘Hang up the phone and take the job.'”

On Haj:” I like modification. I knew I would have two years of Joe Dowling, who is a legend in Washington for his directing there. Then I get to work with Joe Haj, who’s an artist to the core, so informative and open and is the ultimate change representative. He’s infused this place with such brand-new energy and light.”

Anthony Souffle, Star Tribune

Guthrie’s production director David Stewart.

The builder: David Stewart

His role:Production director. Charismatic and charming, he oversees the scene shop, phase management, outfits, etc.

. Back story:Age 49. Born in Denver, “the boy of a barber and a stay-at-home mommy who had an eighth-grade education,” he has a BFA in phase management from Webster University. One of the highest-profile African-Americans in his craft, he has led national efforts to diversify the industry’s backstage operations.

The trigger:“Everybody has that one teacher. I did, too. You have to comprehend, I was a C trainee all the method through 11th grade. In junior year, my pal said, ‘Why don’t you take stagecraft? It’s a simple A.’ My teacher, John van Epps, pressed me to be not simply a much better trainee, however a much better human being. I was growing up to take control of my daddy’s barbershop. However John said I could go to school for this. He opened my world.”

Profession: “I really operated at Children’s Theatre for the 1999-2000 season as production phase manager, but that’s a funny story. When I initially entered the business, someone informed me that after Ten Years, I was going to strike a brick wall. And sure enough, I did. I left theater and moved South to end up being a task supervisor for an information innovation company. Then that organisation began to go under, so I returned to theater. I worked at the University of Wisconsin for nine years and am a Badger to this day.”

Getting to the Guthrie:He was teaching at the University of Texas when the call came. “In Wisconsin, the Packers are owned by the community. In Minnesota, it’s the Guthrie.” His predecessor, Frank Butler, lasted 18 years. “If I’m here that long, I’m gon na be tired, too. Exactly what we’ve moved considering that we got here was this sense of playfulness, this openness.”

On Haj:“Joe is our assisting star, and we’re all putting our shoulders in it. I liken the experience of working at the Guthrie to riding a horse. The wind’s in your face and you’re gon na go on a wild, muscular ride. Sometimes your thighs ache and your muscles hurt like a huge pet dog. I love my job and the individuals who work here.”

Anthony Souffle, Star Tribune
The Guthrie’s senior leadership group, from left, production director David Stewart, development director Danielle St. Germain-Gordon, associate creative director Jeff Meanza, creative director Joe Haj and managing director Jennifer Bielstein.