The South Arkansas Arts Center will be welcoming El Dorado-born Broadway professional Tripp Phillips as guest director for Steel Magnolias, the first production of its 2021-2022 season.
Phillips, a New York-based production manager and assistant director with an abundance of shows, was first introduced to the theater as a child at SAAC. He is excited about this chance to reconnect with his roots.
“When I was 10, I knew theater was what I wanted to do with my life,” said Phillips. “I’m one of those lucky people who had to do it. But without the arts center, I would never have known.”
Growing up in El Dorado, Phillips began his theater work as a child actor and then as a young director for SAAC. He first appeared in a 1971 production of The Wizard of Oz as Mayor of Munchkins. During the next decade he was instrumental in nearly 40 productions on the SAAC stage. He performed as an actor, designed and built sets, worked behind the scenes and directed the stage. His first directorial credit was for a children’s production, The Ugly Duckling, in 1976 and directed shows including the summer musicals My Fair Lady and Funny Girl until the early 1980s.
Phillips holds a BA in theater from Centenary College, Louisiana and an MFA in directing from the University of Mississippi, graduating with honors in 1986. From 1986 to 1994, before starting his work on Broadway, he was the Artistic / Executive Director of the York Little Theater in York, PA, an acclaimed and successful community theater.
With Broadway credits like “Plaza Suite”, “All My Sons”, “Carousel”, “War Paint”, “42nd Street”, “Finian’s Rainbow”, “Pal Joey”, “The King and I” and “How to.” “Success in business without really trying,” Phillips has worked on a diverse and exciting series of shows, as well as national touring, off-Broadway and regional theater productions.
When the COVID-19 pandemic caused the shutdown of the live theater industry, including Broadway, Phillips saw an opportunity to spend some time with his family in El Dorado. When he plans to return to New York in late summer, he is delighted to have the time to return to his home stage at SAAC as director of the upcoming production of “Steel Magnolias,” which will debut the 2021-2022 season and brands of SAAC first series production since the beginning of the pandemic.
“’Steel Magnolias’ is a love and resilience story that I think is very appropriate right now. It’s a popular ensemble show shared by the six remarkable women who tell the enduring story, and I think it’s a great one Opportunity to do so. Welcome the audience back to the world of live theater, ”said Phillips.
Steel Magnolias is sponsored by Murphy USA and runs June 17-25. The auditions are planned for April 26th and 29th.
SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street in El Dorado.