Sheldon Epps Joins Ford’s Theatre Leadership Team

Acclaimed director's new role announced as Ford's reevaluates its season amid racial justice reckoning and COVID closures.

Sheldon Epps will join the Ford’s Theatre leadership team as Senior Artistic Advisor. He steps into the new role as the theater reevaluates its 2020–2021 season amid the national reckoning for racial justice and the impacts of COVID-19 on live performances.

Twelve Angry Men Director Sheldon Epps talks with his cast at Ford’s Theatre. Photo by Scott Suchman.

“I am thrilled to welcome Sheldon Epps to the Ford’s Theatre family,” said Ford’s Theatre Director Paul R. Tetreault. “DC audiences will know Sheldon from his 2019 production of Twelve Angry Men, when he gave new relevance to this iconic drama and its themes of racism in America. I have known Sheldon for more than 20 years and been an admirer of his work as a director and producer. Over the last several years, I have relied on his counsel not only for the works he has (and will) direct but also on his programming ideas and direction of the company. Sheldon’s insight, leadership, talent, and deep capacity for empathy will be vital to our path forward. As we revisit our 2020–2021 season, we commit to using our power to tell stories that speak to the present moment with courage, hope, inspiration, joy and healing. We rededicate ourselves to the great work that consumed Lincoln’s life, building a more just and peaceful world, through the power of our creative voices.”

Twelve Angry Men Director Sheldon Epps at first rehearsal for Twelve Angry Men. Photo by Gary Erskine.

“Over the past several years I have developed a richly rewarding connection to Paul and the staff at Ford’s Theatre, which has enhanced my admiration for the theater’s long history and strong artistic reputation,” Epps said. “It is very gratifying to be invited to join the artistic staff in this position. This will allow me the very welcome opportunity to build an even stronger collaboration with Paul and the company. I believe that I can make important contributions as Ford’s Theatre continues its already admirable efforts in the areas of diversity, inclusion, and ongoing artistic excellence. I am especially happy to be of service at a time when all American theaters are exploring ways to transform today’s challenges into creative opportunities for the future. I look forward to being an integral part of that valuable process.”

“Since Sheldon first began working with Ford’s, his work exemplified an immediate and innate understanding of our mission and the importance of the stories we choose to tell on our stage,” added Ford’s Theatre Deputy Director and Director of Programming Kristin Fox-Siegmund. “He quickly became a trusted advisor to our entire artistic team, and I am thrilled to continue expanding our relationship.”

Epps joins an artistic programming team that includes Tetreault, Fox-Siegmund, Director of Artistic Programming José Carrasquillo, Program Operations and Music Manager Sarah R. Hewitt and Artistic Programming Manager Erika Scott.

In July, Ford’s Theatre canceled its fall production of Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful. The Theatre continues to evaluate local health and safety guidelines and will announce plans for the rest of the 2020–2021 season in mid-September. While the theater is closed to on-site visits and programming, it continues to produce a variety of virtual programming, including:

  • Cabinet Conversations: bi-weekly livestreamed discussions featuring historians, artists and leaders;
  • Virtual Play Readings: monthly livestreamed readings of plays exploring history and the American experience;
  • Distance-Learning Programs: through live video-conferencing, students learn the story of President Lincoln’s assassination and the world of Civil War Washington.

Sheldon Epps was Artistic Director of the renowned Pasadena Playhouse for 20 years (1997–2017) and now serves the theate ras Artistic Director Emeritus. Before beginning his tenure at the Playhouse, he served as Associate Artistic Director of the Old Globe Theatre for four years. He was also a co-founder of the Off-Broadway theater The Production Company. Epps has directed both plays and musicals at many of the country’s major theaters including the Roundabout, Manhattan Theatre Club, the Guthrie, Playwrights Horizons, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Arena Stage and the Goodman Theatre. He conceived the highly acclaimed musicals Play On! and Blues In the Night, which both received Tony Award nominations. He directed productions of both of those shows on Broadway, in London and at theatres throughout the world. He co-directed the Broadway production of Baby It’s You!, which had its world premiere at The Pasadena Playhouse. He also has had a busy career as a television director helming episodes of shows such as Frasier, Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, Girlfriends and many others. Epps received the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award for his efforts and accomplishments at the Pasadena Playhouse. He served for many years on the SDC Executive Board and was previously also the Chair of the SDCF Board of Trustees.

Ford’s Theatre Society
One of the most visited sites in the nation’s capital, Ford’s Theatre reopened its doors in 1968, more than a hundred years after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Operated through a partnership between Ford’s Theatre Society and the National Park Service, Ford’s Theatre is the premier destination in the nation’s capital to explore and celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s life and legacy.


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