Cynthia Rider, managing director of Kansas City Repertory Theatre, is leaving to become executive director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Rider, who grew up in the Kansas City area, has worked here as an arts administrator and sometimes as an actress for 15 years. In her new job, she’ll oversee an organization with a budget of more than $27 million, compared to about $7.5 million at the Rep.
Before she began interviewing for the new job, Rider said she had always hoped to attend the festival.
“I told them when they first contacted me I had always dreamed of going to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, let alone working (there),” she said.
The festival, founded in 1935 and based in Ashland, Ore, is one of the oldest nonprofit theater companies in the U.S. It currently presents 11 shows — classics and contemporary plays — in three theaters.
Rider has been KC Rep’s managing director since 2009. Previously, she had served as the Rep’s associate director for advancement and administration. She was involved in the company’s $7 million capital campaign to open Copaken Stage in 2007 and oversaw the world premieres of “Venice,” a hip-hop musical expected to open in New York next year, and “A Christmas Story,” a musical based on the popular Bob Clark film, scheduled to open on Broadway in November.
Rider’s husband, actor Stuart Rider, appeared with her in a production of “Sarah Plain and Tall” at the Coterie Theater in 2003 and has performed with Kansas City Actors Theatre, the Unicorn and the New Theatre, among other companies. The Riders and their daughter, Lilly, who is about to start high school, will move to Ashland. Their son, Sam, will be a freshman at the University of Kansas.
Rider said she’s excited about the new job but leaving won’t be easy.
“It’s very difficult,” she said. “This is my hometownl and this is the place where I became an arts administrator … I’ve grown as the city has in terms of artistic ambition. It’s been a really incredible time to be here, so it’s very hard to leave. And I wouldn’t leave except for something like this.”