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Shuffle atop legiter fest

Change at top for Mass. fest

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Jenny Gersten, associate producer at the Williamstown Theater Festival, will not be part of the new leadership team under newly appointed artistic director Roger Rees, who takes over the Massachusetts theater in January.

Gersten was a top candidate for the top post at Williamstown. On Thursday, she told Daily Variety she was “moving on” but declined to elaborate. As associate producer, she was No. 2 at the festival under Michael Ritchie, who’s leaving to head the Center Theater Group in Los Angeles.

Ritchie’s title at Williamstown is producer. Rees’ title will be artistic director.

Gersten is the daughter of Bernard Gersten, exec producer at Lincoln Center Theater. Daniel Swee, casting director at LCT, was also in the final running for the Williamstown job. At one point in the Williamstown shuffle, Swee and Jenny Gersten were rumored to be on board to share the Ritchie post.

The Wales-born Rees, 60, was last seen on the Gotham stage in the musical “A Man of No Importance,” staged by LCT during the 2003-04 season. His career began in the 1960s at the Royal Shakespeare Theater. At Williamstown, he has worked as both an actor (“The Taming of the Shrew”) and director (Jon Robin Baitz’s “The Film Society”). Rees told Daily Variety that he would not be wearing either of those hats in his first season at the fest.

Rees does not come to Williamstown with a long resume of administrative credits. His previous run in that department was as associate artistic director at the Old Vic in Bristol, England, during the 1985-86 season. Regardless, Rees said he felt equipped for his new role. “I’ve been taught by many wonderful people during my career, ranging from Trevor Nunn to Bob Fosse to Mel Brooks,” he said. Regarding his leadership skills, Rees offered, “I’m very good at being the daddy and negotiating in the center of things.”

Rees won a 1982 Tony Award for “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.” He is known to TV auds for his roles on “Cheers” and “The West Wing.”

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