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Catherine O’Brien lands job at Harbourfront Theatre

by Peggy Miles

Catherine O’BrienAlthough the new year has yet to be ushered in, the offices at the Harbourfront Theatre are busy preparing, planning and plotting for their 2013 summer season. Assisting with that effort is well known Island stage luminary Catherine O’Brien who will fill the role of Artistic Director for the theatre’s summer programming.

O’Brien is accompanied by a wealth of experience in the world of theatre. An accomplished performer and native of Deep River, Ontario, she received her initial training in Musical Theatre at Sheridan College in Oakville. Since then she has performed in theatres across Canada.

Many will recognize O’Brien for her various acting roles as part of The Charlottetown Festival at the Confederation Centre of the Arts. She is also the Artistic Producer of the Young At Heart Musical Theatre for Seniors, a company dedicated to bringing original Canadian musicals to seniors across PEI.

Her affiliation with the Harbourfront will shift her focus to behind the scenes and follows up a successful summer season directing Nunsense at the five hundred and twenty seat theatre. The momentum of the show has initiated a desire for the theatre’s board and management to pursue the role of producing summer performances. O’Brien’s talents will lend to that pursuit.

She plans to build on this past season’s accomplishments, but at the same time will take baby steps leading into her new role. She will have a hand in choosing what will appear on stage, casting, directing and other theatre management tasks such as promotion.

O’Brien will work closely with General Manager Kieran Keller to support and facilitate the theatre’s summer initiatives. She praises the theatre’s operations team and is looking forward to benefitting from the experience and skills of other staff members.

“I never thought of myself as the leadership type, but I kept finding myself in those roles” says O’Brien. She expresses that as a leader it is important to gain support and trust. And when she feels strongly about something, “I follow through.”

O’Brien surmises that she may miss her regular onstage appearances, however the collaborative process of leading a team through an artistic process evokes a feeling of mutual pride and accomplishment.

Her desire is that the Harbourfront remain a community space that is reflective of the area’s people. She looks forward to developing relationships with local community groups and reaching out to businesses to build partnerships that will benefit all.

O’Brien knows it can be a challenge producing viable entertainment options for the general public, but she’s looking forward to facilitating memorable experiences for Harbourfront Theatre audiences who will want to come back for more. Stay tuned for further announcements about the 2013 summer season at the Harbourfront.

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