CHICAGO – Underscore Theatre Company is pleased to announce the appointment of Whitney Rhodes as its new Artistic Director. Rhodes succeeds Laura Stratford, who co-founded the company in 2011 and has since served as Executive Director, Co-Artistic Director, and most recently, Artistic Director.
Comments Whitney Rhodes, “For the majority of my career as a creative artist and administrator, my heartbeat has been new work and specifically new musical theater; it’s the room I am energized by and always want to be in. I continue to be fascinated by the theatrical writing process and how stories are developed, shaped and eventually shared with an audience. It’s truly impactful work that happens in the discovery of how a story wants to be told. There’s nothing like it. I am incredibly impressed by the space Underscore has created for itself in this community. For such a young company, the quality of their work is outstanding and their dedication to writers and artists is truly powerful. This company is something really special and I am honored to be a part of it.”
Comments Laura Stratford, “As a founder of Underscore, the search for an Artistic Director who will champion the cause of new musicals and expand the support we can offer was of utmost importance for me. Whitney is a writer of new musicals herself, and those who know her, including Ensemble members and Artistic Associates already working with Underscore, attest to her fierce love of the form along with her ability to lead with grace, to bring her experience to inject new energy and ideas into the company. My time leading Underscore over the past seven years has been some of the most exciting, challenging and fulfilling of my life, and I am so happy that as I transition into another focus, Whitney and our Executive Director Rachel Elise Johnson will be taking the helm. I can’t wait to see how the future of Underscore unfolds.”
About Whitney Rhodes
Whitney Rhodes recently made her way to the Chicago by way of Nebraska, Iowa, New York and Minneapolis. A graduate of Drake University with degrees in Acting and Advertising, she has enjoyed wearing many hats as a performer, producer, director, educator, writer and arts administrator. Her decade in Minneapolis began as the Manager of Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Spotlight Education program championing young artists across the state and establishing Spotlight as a national model in non-competitive high school awards programs. As a fierce advocate of the value and impact of storytelling, she grew her leadership chops as the Development Manager and eventual Chief Operating Officer of Mixed Blood Theatre. She was proud to have directed and produced the swan song of the Ivey Awards (the Twin Cities celebration of theater) alongside the team of Arts ink, Inc in 2018. In addition to her work on the Iveys, as the Director of Strategic Operations at Arts Ink, she worked closely with the CEO to develop marketing and organizational strategy for performing arts organizations in the Twin Cities area.
As an artist herself, she is the Book writer of For Tonight, a musical that has seen development at NYMF, Goodspeed Festival of New Musicals, New York Theatre Barn and will have its World Premiere at the Queensbury Theatre in Houston, Texas in February 2019. Her favorite onstage credits as an actor include: She Loves Me (Amalia), DalekoArts; The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Jewel), Old Log Theatre; The Full Monty (Joanie), Theater Latté Da; Ragtime (Ensemble), Park Square Theatre.
About Underscore Theatre Company
Founded in 2011, Underscore Theatre Company is a team of producing artists dedicated to exploring stories of power and resonance through a musical lens; fostering the development of new musicals; and bolstering Chicago’s role as a national leader in musical theatre. Since its creation, Underscore has produced or co-produced 65 new mainstage and workshop musicals in Chicago. Underscore is proud to be Chicago’s home for new musicals.