The final two encore performances of "Love, Sex, and the IRS" today in the Cabaret not only mark the end of Millbrook's 2011 season, they also mark the end of Mary Catherine Burke's stint as the Playhouse's artistic director.
In addition to the responsibilities of artistic director, Burke has been seen her wearing other hats during the last three years, including directing, acting and even working in the box office.
After leaving Millbrook, her next directing job will be "The Little Shop of Horrors" in Ashbury, N.J. After that musical's final curtain, Burke will return to her Manhattan home and for her next opportunity to move into a new director's chair.
Mary Kate Burke is on the left.
A native of Fairfield, Conn., Burke relished her theater experiences in high school and graduated from Southern Methodist University in 2000.
Opportunities to direct brought her to New York City, where she directed at the New York Music Theatre Festival, The Fringe Festival, The Director's Company and The Celebrity 24 Hours Plays on Broadway.
Other Broadway credits include assistant director for the Tony-Award- winning "Fortune's Fool," "A Mother, A Daughter, and a Gun" and "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" at the Goodspeed Opera.
For Big Apple college theater departments, Burke directed plays at New York University, Columbia and Fordham.
After directing short plays for The Vital Theatre Company, led by Steve Sunderlin, Burke oversaw a successful production for this Off-Broadway Theatre.
While Sunderlin was Millbrook's artistic director, he invited Burke to Mill Hall where her first directing job was "The Syringa Tree."
Burke also directed Cabaret productions of "The Vagina Monologues," "Rebound and Gagged" and "Santaland Diaries" for Sunderlin.
After her appointment as artistic director, Burke directed "Noises Off," Triumph off Love" and "Nuncrackers" as a fundraiser, playing one of the zany nuns during one performance.
This season, she cast veteran performers Thom Caska and Marc de la Concha, and directed them in the summer's most rollicking comedy, "The Odd Couple," and reassembled the cast from the Cabaret's opener "Love, Sex, and the IRS" for this weekend's farcical encores.
When asked about her "legacy," the genial Burke commented that she has seen the quality of the design teams "come a long way" since her arrival three years ago. Regular Millbrook patrons will readily agree that production values have increased greatly with creative sets on both the Main Stage and most notably in the downstairs Cabaret. (This season's "Ain't Misbeavin' " was an exceptional visually appealing treat).
Burke continually made good use of community actors, meshing area performers into the predominant college and New York professional casts.
She proudly noted that her tenure included commissioned family shows, last season's "Help Wanted: Pirates!" and this summer's "Help Wanted: Aliens!," both of which she directed for several sold out performances. Varied fare, which she selected during the last three summers, included this season's comedy with a heartfelt message "Fat Pig," which continued a "mission" to introduce central Pennsylvanians to contemporary, different-themed plays.
Freelance director is a term that Burke agrees fits her job title. Although a member of Lincoln Center Director's Lab, and a recipient of the Drama League's Fall Fellowship, Burke doesn't plan to always remain a NYC resident.
With a solid resume of success as director and artistic director, Burke will always be an energizing force to reckon with - whether the director's chair is positioned backstage in an old barn playhouse, in a year-round regional theater or a Broadway showhouse.