After 43 years, Robb Hunt is retiring as Village Theatre’s executive producer. (Village Theatre)

After 43 years, Robb Hunt is retiring as Village Theatre’s executive producer. (Village Theatre)

The Village Theatre’s Robb Hunt to retire after 43 years

He brought the Issaquah-based theater’s award-winning productions to Everett in 1994.

The man who brought Village Theatre’s award-winning productions to Everett will retire next year.

Executive producer Robb Hunt has announced that the 2022 season with Village Theatre will be his last. He’s been with the theater 43 years.

Hunt, 74, helped found Village Theatre in 1979. After five years working as a management consultant, Hunt was named executive producer. His job was essentially two: artistic director and managing director all rolled in to one.

“Generally, you find two different people to do those jobs,” said Lanie McMullin, the former executive director of economic development for Everett.

“But because he had the understanding of what it takes to mount a production and also the understanding of how to read a ledger, he was the one person who was able to figure this all out — and that resulted in a very solvent nonprofit, more than most, which gave him the ability to expand to a satellite location.”

The Issaquah-based Village Theatre partnered with the city of Everett to manage the Everett Performing Arts Center and the Cope Gillette Theatre in Everett. That partnership has allowed Village to extend its production runs and its contracts with actors and musicians.

The Francis J. Gaudette Theatre in Issaquah and Everett Performing Arts Center stages are the exact same size — meaning productions move seamlessly between cities.

“It was a stroke of luck that it worked out that way,” McMullin said. “With two runs, Robb was more able to make the cost of mounting the show.”

Hunt said the first show to have a run in Issaquah and Everett was “Heartbeats” in 1994.

“When we bring a show up there, it’s really great to move from Issaquah to Everett, because there’s such enthusiasm,” he said. “It’s been really rejuvenating for the show. It’s been a great relationship, and one that we want to continue.”

Here are other Village Theatre’s accomplishments over the last 43 years thanks to Hunt’s leadership:

Before the pandemic, Village Theatre had a $15 million operating budget, as well as 18,000 ticket subscribers and 210,000 or so in the audience per season.

Since 1995, Village Originals has supported the development of more than 175 new musicals, including “Next to Normal,” “Million Dollar Quartet,” “It Shoulda Been You,” “Desperate Measures” and “Lizzie.” Village also puts on a Festival of New Musicals each year.

With their Broadway runs, “Next To Normal” and “Million Dollar Quartet” each won a Tony Award. “Next To Normal” also received the Pulitzer Prize.

Over the years, Village Theatre has acquired the Francis J. Gaudette Theatre, First Stage Theatre and the Craig & Joan Watjen Technical Studios in Issaquah.

Since 1988, Village Kidstage — which serves more than 5,000 students per year — has been teaching youth the theater skills they need to put on their own summer productions. If they don’t want to sing, act or dance, students can seek behind-the-scene roles such as management, direction, design and technical theater.

After more than four decades, McMullin said Hunt deserves to retire. She’s been following his work in King and Snohomish counties for years.

“What he’s contributed to the arts and the culture and vitality of both counties is just immense,” she said.

Hunt, of Bellevue, earned his bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Washington.

After working for a management consultant firm for 10 years, he established his own consultancy in 1978. In addition to Village Theater, Hunt consulted for the 5th Avenue Theatre, Metropolitan Museum, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Symphony and The Museum of Flight.

He was named Village Theatre’s executive producer in 1985. As a performer, Hunt appeared in such Village Theatre productions as “Man of La Mancha” and “Brigadoon.”

Hunt isn’t the only Village staffer to move on. After three years as Village Theatre’s artistic director, Jerry Dixon has announced he is transitioning to an artistic consultant role for the 2022 season.

Dixon will direct next season’s “Raisin,” a musical based on Lorraine Hansberry’s groundbreaking 1959 play, “A Raisin in the Sun.” “Raisin” won a 1974 Tony Award for Best Musical.

When Hunt retires next year, his role will be replaced with two positions: a managing director and an artistic director.

Village Theatre is working with Management Consultants for the Arts to fill the new positions. The job descriptions for both the managing director and artistic director roles will be available soon at www.villagetheatre.org.

Hunt said he plans to get back into art management consulting in his retirement.

“It feels like it’s time,” he said. “I’ve been planning it for a while.”

Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; sbruestle@heraldnet.com; @sarabruestle.

Village Theatre 2022 season lineup

The four-show 2022 season lineup is “Songs for a New World,” “The Book Club Play,” “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and “Raisin.” It is scheduled for a Feb. 18 through Aug. 7 run in Everett.

Season tickets for all four shows are $104-$312. Go to www.villagetheatre.org/everett/subscribe.php or call 425-392-2202 for more information. Performances will be 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 1 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 1 and 7 p.m. Sundays at Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave., Everett.

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