NEW YORK — Des McAnuff, director of this year’s Tony-winning tuner “Jersey Boys,” will step down as artistic director of La Jolla Playhouse when his contract expires in April.
McAnuff, who turned the San Diego theater into a prominent feeder for Broadway, plans to pursue unspecified artistic opportunities.
Multiple productions of “Jersey Boys,” including London and the road, are in the works, and McAnuff has said he would be interested in directing a movie version of the show.
McAnuff will continue his association with the theater as director emeritus, a newly created position with greater flexibility.
“Jersey Boys” is McAnuff’s most recent Broadway directing credit. The Frankie Valli biotuner, which originated at La Jolla, picked up four Tonys, including the prize for top musical.
McAnuff first led La Jolla as a.d. between 1983 and 1994, during which time he won Tonys for his direction of the Broadway transfers of “Big River” (1985) and “The Who’s Tommy” (1993). Following a stint as a freelancer, he returned to La Jolla in 2001.
Other Rialto successes that originated at La Jolla were “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “I Am My Own Wife” and the Billy Crystal solo show “700 Sundays,” which McAnuff also directed.
Still on his plate at La Jolla before he ankles: a revival of “The Wiz,” which bows Sept. 26, followed by a workshop production of Aaron Sorkin’s “The Farnsworth Invention,” about the race to invent television. McAnuff’s production of the new musical “Zhivago” is up and running at the theater, with a skedded closing date of July 9.
The formation of a search committee has been approved to put a new a.d. in place by the time of McAnuff’s departure.