Skylight Reinstates Theisen
Bill Theisen, fired in June as artistic director of the Skylight Opera Theatre, is back. The Skylight announced a new agreement with Theisen that would retain him as artistic director through June 30, 2011.
Diane Bacha, interim communications director, said that Theisen has agreed to accept the title with no pay beyond his fees for directing four shows this season. His salary for next season, when he again assumes full duties as artistic director, will be negotiatied. According to the non-profit’s public tax records, his salary as artistic director previously was about $75,000.
The company has also reinstated Diana Alioto, who was also fired in June, as director of artistic operations. Ray Jivoff, a mainstay among Skylight performers and long-time education director, has taken on the added title of assistant artistic director. Bacha said that Jivoff will fill in for Theisen while Theisen directs shows out of town. Theisen committed to at least two shows elsewhere when he thought he would have no work at the Skylight.
Thus ends a period of craziness and controversy with this company that would have been unimaginable before June 16. That’s when the Skylight fired Theisen and sought to alleviate a financial crisis by consolidating business and artistic management under Eric Dillner.
Theisen has his title back. Cabot has been busily raising money, and there are signs that he and other donors are bringing the Skylight back from the brink. And the first show of the current season, “The Barber of Seville,” was a big hit. Theisen has been consulting with Cabot on the 2010-2011 season, and their proposal is now being considered by a board committee.
The Skylight still has money to raise to get out of its financial hole, but now everyone seems to be working together to solve the problems. And Theisen is a popular, stabilizing and very competent figure. It’s starting to look as if a happy ending for the endlessly charming little company in Milwaukee’s Third Ward is likely.