Skylight Music Theatre Artistic Director Ray Jivoff Announces Plans to Leave Current Full-Time Position at End of 2018-19 Season
Jivoff’s History with Skylight Spans 30 Years
Milwaukee, Wis. (August 9, 2018) — Skylight Music Theatre Artistic Director Ray Jivoff announced today that he will leave his position as of June 29, 2019. This marks 20 years on the staff of the company, 30 years since he first performed with Skylight and will follow soon after his 65th birthday.
“It’s simply time for a change. After 20 years, I look forward to stepping away from the responsibilities of a management position,” said Jivoff.
During his final season as Artistic Director, Jivoff will direct the season opener, Pippin (Sept. 21 - October 7) and the season’s closing show, Kiss Me, Kate (May 17 - June 9, 2019). He will also be featured on stage in Things that go Ding! (Feb. 22 – March 3, 2019). He is currently planning Skylight’s 60th anniversary season (2019-20) and plans to stay involved with the company in various capacities after he leaves his full-time position. Further details about a celebration of his 30 years at Skylight and other future plans will be announced at a later date.
“We are grateful that Ray said ‘yes’ when we asked him to step in as artistic director,” said Skylight Executive Director Jack R. Lemmon. “We knew he was the right person at the right time. Skylight is part of his DNA and he has brought a sense of fun back to the company. We look forward to announcing plans for his continued connection to the place that has been his artistic home for nearly three decades.”
Jivoff started as an actor at Skylight in 1990 in Girl Crazy. After performing with the company for nine years, he was hired as its first Education Director in 1999. He became Skylight’s Associate Artistic Director in 2009, Interim Artistic Director in 2016 and Artistic Director in 2017.
“I appreciate the opportunities I’ve had at Skylight and am proud of the work I’ve done. I leave with mixed emotions, but the time has come to make a life with less pressure and stress,” said Jivoff. “Although I don’t want to be behind a desk anymore, I plan to continue working with Skylight and other theatres in our community as a freelance artist.”
Skylight Music Theatre Board of Directors President Michael C. Lueder said, “When we tapped Ray for the artistic director role, we knew that the management demands would mean less time for him to spend on the things he cares most passionately about: education, working with actors, directing, acting. He never asked for this job, but he took it because he cares so deeply about Skylight. He has given us a full year’s notice, so we are in an excellent position to take the time we need to launch a careful search and make the right decision moving forward.”
Among the many highlights of Jivoff’s career at Skylight are creating the Enlighten program, which includes an in-depth partner school program in eight MPS schools, two touring shows (The Standard Songbook and KidsWrites), in-school workshops and residencies and the annual High School Musical Celebration, which features hundreds of area high school students performing on the Cabot Theatre stage. He also initiated Insights, Skylight’s pre-show talk series, created the in-depth audience guides, coordinated Skylight’s cabaret series and is proud that the summer music theatre workshop for high school students was restarted this summer.
At Skylight Jivoff directed Urinetown, Hair, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris and Sing Me a Story. He has performed in over 25 productions at Skylight, in roles from Harpo Marx to Nathan Detroit to the patter men in Gilbert and Sullivan productions. He recently starred as Albin in La Cage Aux Folles alongside longtime Skylight favorite, Norman Moses. He has also worked as an actor and director at numerous other area theatres including First Stage Children's Theater and Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
Jivoff has been active in the theatre community as an actor, teacher and director since moving to Milwaukee in 1988. He received both a BA in Theatre and his teacher’s credential in secondary education from San Francisco State University. Jivoff created the Next Actors Summer Theatre for Youth, a developmental music theatre project for high school students at Next Act Theatre and directed the program for eight years. He was the theatre director at Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha for twelve years, directing over 20 productions. He has directed at many schools and colleges in the area including UW-Milwaukee, Carroll College, Marquette University, and Milwaukee High School of the Arts.
About Skylight Music Theatre
Skylight Music Theatre’s mission since 1959: To bring the full spectrum of music theatre works to a wide and diverse audience in celebration of the musical and theatrical arts and their reflection of the human condition. Skylight presents productions “Skylight Style” – bringing fresh approaches or interesting twists to music theatre works, creating meaningful connections, not only between the characters on stage but with the audience as well. The beautiful, intimate Cabot Theatre allows audiences to feel close to the powerful emotions on stage.