“When I joined Theatrical Outfit in 1995, I had dreams of what could be achieved, and now, working over the years with our artists, staff, trustees, donors and audience, I am happy to report that my highest expectations have been greatly exceeded,” said Key. “Theatrical Outfit will always be my ‘artistic home,’ and I feel sure that now is the time for fresh leadership to take it to new heights and for me to devote my remaining time to my love of acting, directing and writing.”
Key led the company through the creation of its award-winning downtown home, the Balzer Theater at Herren’s, the first U.S. theater to achieve LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The Balzer Theater is also the historical site of Herren’s, the first restaurant in Atlanta to voluntarily desegregate in 1962. Key’s programming of classics, regional and world premieres, and musicals tell soul-stirring stories, with themes that explore diversity, equality, ethnicity, race, and faith; and often feature the best writers of the American South, including Horton Foote, Ernest Gaines, Lauren Gunderson, Harper Lee, Sherri Shepard-Massat, Janece Shaffer, and others.
“Tom was the right person to guide this organization to the impressive place it is today,” said Board Chair Ed Laity. “He has worked tirelessly to build a beacon of professional entertainment in the heart of downtown. Now, with so many exciting developments announced nearby, the City is poised to embrace all that Tom and his team have built, cashing in on his vision for a vibrant downtown community.”
Key’s resume includes almost 50 years of prolific work as an actor. He has appeared in over 100 productions from off-Broadway to Los Angeles including: Alliance Theatre (Art, Grapes of Wrath, Candide, A Christmas Carol), The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (The Defiant Requiem), Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre and Arena Stage in Washington DC (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner), The Atlanta Opera (Out of Darkness: Two Remain, Abduction from the Seraglio) The Atlanta Master Chorale (Music of the Civil War) and Theatrical Outfit (Big River - Suzi Bass Award Winner, Young Man From Atlanta - Suzi Nominee, Red - Suzi Nominee, Our Town and Boy – Suzi Nominee). He has performed his solo dramatization, C.S. Lewis On Stage, across North America including residencies at Harvard, Yale, Cambridge and Oxford Universities. At Theatrical Outfit, he has directed Horton Foote’s Dividing the Estate (ArtsATL “Best Production of the 2013-2014 Season”), Godspell (Suzi Nominee), Keeping Watch (Creative Loafing “Best Production of 2005-2006 Season) and Memphis (Suzi Nominee).
In addition, Key is celebrated nationally for creating, starring in, and co-authoring with Russell Treyz and the late Harry Chapin the Off-Broadway musical hit, Cotton Patch Gospel. He is the recipient of The Governor’s Award in the Humanities, the Georgia Arts and Entertainment Legacy Award, Two Dramalogue Awards for Outstanding Contribution to the Theatre, and two Mayoral proclamations for his service to the City of Atlanta. Atlanta’s Creative Loafing described him as “an actor with such energy that even standing still, he seems to quiver like a divining rod.”
Laity said that the Board has announced a national search for the next Artistic Director and expects to interview finalists this summer. The plan is to name the new leader by the start of the 2019-2020 season, giving ample time for that person to collaborate with staff on plans for the following season.
ABOUT THEATRICAL OUTFIT: Atlanta’s second-oldest continuously-operating professional theatre company was founded in 1976 and has been led by Artistic Director Tom Key since fall 1995. After 10 years of capital investment, T.O. is in new territory. Having retired its mortgage, the staff, trustees, and artists have launched a new 2018-2020 Strategic Plan designed to produce great art, diversify and grow our audience, increase revenue and reserves, develop artists who contribute to the dramatic canon, and maintain an effective organization. In 2018, Theatrical Outfit received 27 Suzi Bass Award nominations, the most in its 43-year history.
OUR VISION: A compassionate, joyful, and just community.
OUR MISSION: Produce world-class theatre that starts the conversations that matter.