Media Release – August 13, 2020
Artistic Director Ron Ulrich to retire, will remain through 2020-21 Season to ensure stable leadership
Hamilton, ON, August 13, 2020 – If everything had gone to plan, Theatre Aquarius’ Artistic Director Ron Ulrich would have announced his retirement at the final production of the 2019-20 season. “I told the Board a little over a year ago I wanted to wind it up,” Ulrich says “I was persuaded to stay on until the end of the 20-21 season. We were going to announce it at the close of this past season, and I was going to hang on, put the next season in place, and then slide away into a delicious retirement. Then the world changed.”
The world may have changed, and his plans somewhat delayed, but Ulrich’s resolve to step aside after a long and distinguished career remains firm. He took the reins of Hamilton’s regional professional theatre in 2008. In the years that followed Ulrich programmed an eclectic mix which both entertained and challenged the expectations of Theatre Aquarius’ subscriber base and fans.
Under Ulrich, Theatre Aquarius produced some of the most successful productions in its history, including record-breaking musicals such as Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins, Mamma Mia! and Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story as well as productions of The Mousetrap, Tuesdays With Morrie and The Last Romance that set new high-water marks for attendance for non-musical works at Aquarius. The box-office success of these shows helped to support the production of other, vital works including The Father, Sweat, Blackbird, The Nether, Where The Blood Mixes, and Playing with Fire: The Theo Fleury Story.
Ulrich’s impressive run as Artistic Director has allowed for the renewal and replacement of capital equipment and the diligent care of the company’s landmark theatre centre at 190 King William Street. The financial stability of Ulrich’s tenure also allowed for further innovation, including the launch of expanded educational programming for youth, and the development of new outreach programs. Under Ulrich, the theatre has worked with partner organizations such as the Incite Foundation for the Arts and the Hamilton Community Foundation to offer no-cost admission for families and youth financially unable to attend, as well as opportunities for no-cost registration within the theatre school training programs for students from schools designated as “high needs”.
Prior to coming to Theatre Aquarius, Mr. Ulrich spent eight seasons as Artistic Director of Halifax’s Neptune Theatre. In his time there, he re-established the company as an integral part of the community, brought its subscription base and attendance to the highest levels in its history, and restored fiscal health by eliminating its operating deficit.
Prior to Neptune Theatre Ron Ulrich was Executive and Artistic Director of the Mayfield Theatre in Edmonton, AB (1994-2000); Artistic Director of the Muskoka Festival, Gravenhurst, ON (1992-1994); Artistic Director of Stage West Canada (1985-1993); and Artistic Director of Huron Country Playhouse in Grand Bend, ON (1983-1985).
As a guest director Mr. Ulrich has directed shows across Canada at such venues as the Bastion Theatre, Citadel Theatre, Theatre New Brunswick, Kawartha Festival, Bathurst Street Theatre, Press Theatre, Persephone Theatre, Sudbury Theatre Centre, Sunshine Festival, Guelph Centre for the Arts, Oakville Centre for the Arts, Teller’s Cage, as well as the Ensemble Theatre in Cincinnati, and the Thorndyke Theatre in England.
Mr. Ulrich holds a Bachelor of Arts (with Great Distinction) from the University of Saskatchewan and is a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada. He has been the recipient of Canada Council, Theatre Ontario, and Saskatchewan Arts Awards.
The Theatre Aquarius Board of Directors has launched the search for Ron’s replacement as Artistic Director. This effort will be an exhaustive, national search for a leader of extraordinary skills, strong business discipline and the community vision to guide Theatre Aquarius into its upcoming 50th anniversary year and beyond.
Ulrich will continue to helm Theatre Aquarius through the challenges of the 2020-21 season, and then step away to explore what comes next.