Saturday, July 20

Gil Cates Jr. to take over as executive director of Geffen Playhouse

Gil Cates Jr. was named the executive director of the Geffen Playhouse on Thursday. (Courtesy of Jeff Lorch)

Gil Cates Jr. was named the executive director of the Geffen Playhouse on Thursday. (Courtesy of Jeff Lorch)

The Geffen Playhouse Board of Directors announced Thursday that Gil Cates Jr. will take over as the new executive director as the playhouse moves into its 20th anniversary season.

“Gil’s devotion and dedication to the theater has gone far beyond doing a good job,” said Chairman Emeritus Frank Mancuso in a statement. “He embraces the work on a personal level.”

Cates Jr. graduated with a drama degree from Syracuse University in 1991 and has since been involved in both theater and film, with credits including a television episode of “Joey” with Matt LeBlanc and the documentary “Life After Tomorrow” with Sarah Jessica Parker.

Cates Jr. has been involved with the Geffen Playhouse since his father, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television founding dean Gil Cates, opened the Geffen Playhouse in 1995. Cates Jr. has held the position of Geffen Playhouse board vice chairman since 2012, and became the interim managing director in February when Ken Novice left after five years.

The bigger transition, Cates Jr. said, was from vice chairman to interim managing director, because his role morphed from backstage production work to office work.

“Now the title change happened, but the work hasn’t changed,” Cates Jr. said in an interview.

Cates Jr. said his duties include negotiating deals for plays and continuing his work from the past three months. Before filling the position permanently, he said he wanted to make sure he was the right fit for the theater.

“I’m looking forward to continuing not only the journey that my dad started, but that I started as I got more involved with the theater,” Cates Jr. said. “(I want) the theater to maintain that level of culture and connecting to the community.”

In the upcoming season, Cates Jr. said his goal is to widen the audience by encouraging younger viewers from UCLA and attendees from around Los Angeles. He said he hopes to accomplish this with the Geffen Playhouse’s West Coast premiere of “These Paper Bullets!” with music by Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong.

The Geffen Playhouse hosts an audience of 130,000 in Westwood annually. It is currently showing “Murder for Two” and “Bad Jews.” Next season’s lineup will begin in September with “These Paper Bullets!” and end with “Big Sky” in June 2016.

Compiled by Lindsay Weinberg, A&E senior staff.

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