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Goodman vet Booth tops Atlanta’s Alliance

Helmer for new partnerships with commercial producers

CHICAGO — Susan Booth, the literary manager of Chicago’s Goodman Theater, has been named the new artistic director of the Alliance Theater in Atlanta, effective July 1.

Booth, 37, will succeed longtime helmer Kenny Leon, who is leaving the Alliance’s hot seat but is expected to continue working in Atlanta.

The Alliance has a roughly $10 million annual budget and carries a debt of some $1.3 million. Booth will reportedly make $170,000 per year in her new job.

This is a notable step forward for Booth, who has never run a major theater company. At the Goodman she was concerned primarily with developing and nurturing relationships with playwrights. Booth, for example, was the theater’s first point of contact with Rebecca Gilman (“Spinning Into Butter,” “Boy Gets Girl”), and she has also worked extensively with Regina Taylor and numerous other emerging scribes.

Most of her directing work to date has taken place outside the Goodman. She has directed several shows at the Alliance, including “How I Learned to Drive” and the theater’s current production of Gilman’s “Spinning Into Butter.”

Booth says she hopes to increase the visibility of the Alliance by forging new partnerships with commercial producers. Disney’s “Aida” began its life at the Alliance. That production was a critical flop, but the show now brings in a solid income stream from Broadway royalties. The Alliance’s board hopes to use those funds to retire the theater’s debt.