Last Sunday following the last performance of Ted Pappas’ masterful production of Hamlet, a group of three hundred plus fans of his gathered at the O’Reilly to celebrate his twenty-five-year tenure with the Pittsburgh Public Theater.
Pappas was born in Tampa, educated in Illinois and honed his craft in New York City. He came to Pittsburgh as a seasoned director and choreographer. Ted brought along his artistic flair along with his love of and passion for theatre.
Pappas started guest directing plays and musicals at the Public when it’s shows were still being staged at the New Hazlett Theatre on the North Side. In 2000 just as the Public moved into its new home at the O’Reilly in the Cultural District, he moved to Pittsburgh and signed a three-year deal to become Artistic Director. In 2003 that role expanded to Producing Artistic Director which included show selection for each season along with overall fiscal responsibility for the Public, plus he still directed several shows each season.
Pappas has a knack for developing and giving new talent a chance. He has been an advocate for female directors. Ted brought the classics to Pittsburgh as well as new works and world premieres that included those of Pittsburgh’s own August Wilson. During his time at the Public, he has directed Shakespeare, Greek tragedies, one man shows, big ensemble casts and a range of musicals. Pappas can stage simple shows and elaborate spectacles. But one thing he hasn’t been able to do for the past eighteen years is to spend Christmas with his family in Greece, until now.
We know what he can do and did learn on Sunday night what he can’t do – drive a car! I’d surely give up my ability to drive a car in order to have half of his talent and energy!
While he was here in Pittsburgh, Pappas and the Public developed long-term relationships not only with actors but the creative team, stage managers and the local unions that make the Public’s shows happen. In this his last season as Producing Artistic Director, in a series of program notes, he thanked those who helped him make Pittsburgh more artful. For Ted, great theatre is indeed a collaborative effort. His work was recognized by the Wall Street Journal who referred to the Public as one of the most accomplished resident theaters on the East Coast.
The theatre community in Pittsburgh owes a considerable debt to Pappas for setting the standard for the quality of theatre produced here and firmly establishing that producing quality theatre while being fiscally responsible was not mutually exclusive.
Ted, you will surely be missed by all of us. We are thrilled though that you will be back next season to guest direct including Doll House Part II.
Watch the Ted Takes A Bow video presentation here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yO6pyAR9eSc&feature=youtu.be