Former Broadway performer and Nashville arts administrator to lead Houston theater company
HOUSTON – June 8, 2017 – A.D. Players, one of Houston’s oldest and largest resident theater companies, is pleased to announce the appointment of Jake Speck as Executive Director. In August 2017, Speck will assume leadership of the company that was founded by actress and playwright Jeannette Clift George in 1967.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have a theater professional of Jake Speck’s caliber and character poised to step into this key role,” said A. D. Players Board Chairman Susan Santangelo. “With our move into the new Jeannette and L.M. George Theater for our 50th season, we have celebrated the A. D. Players’ rich history and Jeannette’s long legacy. And with Jake’s arrival we look confidently and expectantly toward the many opportunities before us to serve this great community through the medium of theater.”
As Executive Director, Speck will oversee all business and community-related functions of the company. Like his A. D. Players predecessor, he is no stranger to the challenges of launching a theater company from the ground up. Speck joined Nashville’s nationally renowned Studio Tenn in 2010 for the company’s first full season, and has served as its President and Managing Director for the last six-and-a-half years. During that time Studio Tenn has become one of the leading regional theater companies in the Southeast. The company was recognized three times by the “Nashville Business Journal” as one of the top five highest-attended performing arts organizations in Middle Tennessee, and designated three years in a row by the “Nashville Scene” as Best Local Theatre Company in the region.
Speck’s impressive performance career includes a two-year run the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “Jersey Boys”, and he has been a featured performer on the Emmy Awards, the Tony Awards, ABC’s “Nashville” and the Netflix series “Master of None” opposite Aziz Ansari. He has performed regionally in professional productions of “Kiss Me Kate”, “Thoroughly Modern Millie”, “Forever Plaid” and “The Melville Boys”, and performed a private concert at The White House for the President of the United States. In Nashville, Speck starred among Broadway veterans in Show Hope’s “Cinderella” with the Nashville Symphony in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and in Studio Tenn productions of “Les Miserables”, “Twelve Angry Men” and “Monty Python’s Spamalot”. Speck trained professionally at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York City.
“I couldn’t be more excited to join A. D. Players as their new executive director,” said Speck. “It is an honor to join an organization with such a rich and storied history, and to be part of the continuing legacy of Jeannette Clift George. I’ve rarely seen a company with more potential and opportunity, and I am thrilled to be the one leading this organization into its next phase of excellence. The arts community in Houston is so rich and diverse--and I very much look forward to being a part of that.”
Speck expressed his gratitude to the Studio Tenn board, staff and donors for their astounding level of support.
“While it’s difficult to walk away from something you helped build, I feel it is precisely the experience of building Studio Tenn that has prepared me for my new assignment,” said Speck. “Studio Tenn will always be a part of me and for that I am eternally grateful.”
A.D. Players’ 2017-2018 Main Stage theater lineup includes productions of “Harvey”, Mary Chase’s 1944 Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy about an imaginary, 6’3” rabbit; Barbara Robinson’s delightful “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” from the young adult novel by the same name; “Best of Enemies”, a true story of the unlikely relationship forged between a Ku Klux Klan leader and a civil rights activist; “Lilies of the Field”, the story of a traveling handyman convinced to build a chapel for a small band of immigrant nuns; and “God’s Favorite”, Neil Simon’s hilarious, contemporary comedy reimagining the biblical man of woe, Job. Children’s Theater productions for 2017-2018 include “Balloonacy”, “Rock Nativity”, “A Wrinkle in Time” and “David, the Best Slinger in the West”.