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McCollum takes reins at Ordway

Kevin McCollum has been named the Ordway Music Theater’s new president and CEO. Co-founder of the New York City-based booking and production company the Booking Office, McCollum replaces Bill Conner, who left the Ordway June 30 to become senior vice president of Livent Inc. in New York.

McCollum will retain both his partnership and co-ownership of the Booking Office, although the responsibility for the company’s daily operations will fall to partner Jeffrey Seller. The company intends to proceed with its plans for a commercial transfer of the New York Theater Workshop’s rock opera, “Rent,” in the winter.

Choosing McCollum, who begins Sept. 1, sent a strong message that the Ordway intends to continue being a major player in the booking of Broadway shows in the Twin Cities. Since it was announced earlier this year that Jujamcyn Co. would sever its partnership with the Ordway in 1996 and become a cross-town competitor for Broadway bookings in the Twin Cities, critics have openly questioned whether the smaller 1,800-seat Ordway will be able to compete with Minneapolis’ State and Orpheum Theaters, which boast 2,500 seats apiece.

But McCollum himself is responsible for booking 10 Broadway productions at the Ordway in the past four years, and is expected to bring the connections necessary to sway producers to the St. Paul side of the Mississippi when the Broadway booking wars begin in earnest next year.

The Ordway is an eclectic non-profit arts organization that uses the revenue from Broadway productions to help house and fund four resident arts organizations – the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera, the Shubert Club and the Minnesota Orchestra – as well as produce a variety of ethnic dance and performing productions and provide numerous community educational outreach programs. Without revenue from Broadway road shows, it is doubtful that the Ordway could function at all.

McCollum brings an impressive resume to the job. In addition to founding the Booking Office, which managed more than $35 million in Broadway bookings last year, McCollum co-produced the Broadway revival hit “Damn Yankees,” associate produced the Off Broadway production of “Oleanna” and the upcoming “West Side Story” tour, and executive produced the feature film “Jeffrey,” adapted from the Paul Rudnick Off Broadway hit. He’s also been an associate producer for St. Louis’ 12,000-seat outdoor theater MUNY, and executive producer of the Tri-State Center of the Arts in Pine Plains, New York.

At 33, McCollum continues the tradition of young, energetic, market-savvy leadership established when Bill Conner took over the Ordway six years ago and almost single-handedly transformed the Twin Cities into the seventh-largest market for Broadway road shows in the nation.

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