Philip J. Smith, chairman and co-CEO of The Shubert Organization, is retiring after more than six decades helping to run one of the largest and most influential theater companies in the world.
Current president and co-CEO Robert E. Wankel will lead The Shubert Organization as chairman and CEO and will serve as chairman of The Shubert Foundation, the company’s charitable arm, which funds non-profit theater and dance companies. Smith will step down on June 30 and will become chairman emeritus.
“The retirement of Phil Smith is a pivotal moment not only in the history of The Shubert Organization but also in the history of the American Theatre,” Wankel said in a statement. “His wisdom from years of experience has influenced every aspect of the professional theatre. From the ushers up to the greatest performers and creative talents of our time, he is one of the most admired and respected individuals the industry has ever known. It is a legacy to be very proud of and I salute him as a giant of the American Theatre and a most beloved member of the Shubert family.”
Smith spent 63 years with Shubert, which owns and operates 17 Broadway theaters and six Off-Broadway venues.
“The decision to retire feels exactly right at this time in my life,” said Smith. “The current COVID-19 crisis has pushed the business of Broadway into uncharted territory. It seems an appropriate time for me to step down and turn over my leadership responsibilities to my friend and colleague, Bob Wankel.”
Indeed, the coronavirus has brought the theater business to its knees. Broadway is closed and many insiders doubt it will reopen until 2021.