Notching one more achievement in what is already a helluva year, Anna D. Shapiro has been tapped to lead Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater Company when its current artistic director, Martha Lavey, steps down at the end of the 2014-15 season.
Chicago-based Shapiro, a Tony winner for “August: Osage County,” has been a longtime artistic associate at Steppenwolf, the prominent Windy City company that has yielded Broadway titles including “August” and the current revival of “This Is Our Youth,” which Shapiro first directed at Steppenwolf over the summer before the production went on to win glowing reviews in New York.
In the spring Shapiro helmed the James Franco-Chris O’Dowd revival of “Of Mice and Men,” which logged strong sales and became the first Broadway show to get a slot in the NT Live series of cinemacasts. Later this year she’ll start work on “Fish in the Dark,” the new play written by and starring Larry David.
Around the same time as Lavey’s transition, Steppenwolf’s exec director, David Hawkanson, will step down, to be replaced by David M. Schmitz, the company’s current managing director.
Lavey has led Steppenwolf since 1995, and under her stewardship Steppenwolf has become a more notable player on the national theater scene, as reflected in a raised Broadway profile that includes the recent, Tony-winning revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” The appointment of Shapiro, a Broadway regular, looks poised to keep New York interest in the organization high.
The news of Lavey’s departure hadn’t been anticipated at a press event Thursday called in part to reveal plans for a expansion project that will add two buildings, one housing a new 400-seat venue, to function alongside Steppenwolf’s 500-seat mainstage.