'Donkey' helmer to run Cambridge Theater

Diane Paulus, the theater and opera helmer known for long-running Off Broadway hit “The Donkey Show,” is the new artistic director of the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass.

The Gotham-based Paulus, 41, is only the third head of the Harvard-affiliated institution founded by Robert Brustein. Robert Woodruff was a.d. until two years ago, when his contract was not renewed.

Gideon Lester is the current acting a.d., following Woodruff’s unexpected exit and the long subsequent search for a new head for the theater. Steppenwolf Theater Company ensemble member and Tony-nominated “August: Osage County” director Anna D. Shapiro had been slated to accept the position but reportedly turned it down in the final days of negotiations.

While Paulus was not part of the initial search, she recently had emerged as a leading candidate, along with Chris Coleman of Portland Stage.

A Harvard graduate and Obie Award-winner, Paulus currently is prepping “Kiss Me Kate” at Glimmerglass Opera and a revival of “Hair” to play at the Delacorte as part of the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park lineup this summer.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more