theater

Katie Hallman starts as TCR's new executive director, aims for sustained growth

A 'fortuitous' opportunity

Katie Hallman poses for a portrait last Monday in Theatre Cedar Rapids' Linge Lounge. Hallman started as TCR's new execu
Katie Hallman poses for a portrait last Monday in Theatre Cedar Rapids’ Linge Lounge. Hallman started as TCR’s new executive director in March, filling the role left empty by Casey Prince. (Liz Zabel/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — When Katie Hallman starred on Theatre Cedar Rapids’ stage as Sandy in the 2005 production of “Grease,” she knew she’d always be involved in theater, but didn’t know just how far her career would carry her nor that it would bring her back to where she started.

Except that this time she’s not on the stage but rather in the executive director’s chair.

After years of working in theatres in New York, Minneapolis and most recently New Orleans, Hallman returned to her home state to lead TCR’s staff as the new executive director. Her first day was March 16.

Hallman, a Lisbon native, was one of more than 40 candidates from across the country to apply for the job.

“TCR has established itself to the point where it required a national search,” said board President Todd Bergen. “We have enough significance and success in the region that we needed the best potential candidate.”

Turns out that candidate was a native Iowan waiting for the right opportunity to return home.

“My husband and I met in New York and on our second date, I asked him what he’d think about moving to Iowa someday,” Hallman said. “I’m so proud to be from here. I’d always hoped to move back. This opportunity just felt fortuitous.”

Hallman, 31, earned her undergraduate degree from Luther College in Decorah and her Master of Arts in Music Business from New York University in New York, then worked in the box office at Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, as director of concert operations and associate producer for Manhattan Concert Productions in New York and as managing director of Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre, a nonprofit theater in New Orleans.

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“She has an impressive background for a young professional,” Bergen said. “She’s just an impressive young lady — she’s assertive, a leader and has vision. She exudes confidence, professionalism, excitement and energy, in addition to having an impressive professional background.”

“Being a leader was never a choice,” Hallman said, referring to herself as a “tenacious, type-A achiever.”

An added bonus, Bergen said, was finding someone who already knows, understands and values the community she’d be contributing to.

“To be able to serve the community that raised you is a tremendous responsibility and gift,” Hallman said. “I must have been in fifth or sixth grade when I first did theater camp. Then I was cast in ‘Follies,’ and as a freshman in college, I was cast as Sandy in ‘Grease.’ Being able to perform on this stage was a magical experience.”

Following the flood of 2008, TCR rebuilt itself to be stronger than ever, Bergen said, noting its significant base of volunteers and season ticket holders.

“The opportunity going forward is to continue on that pace,” he said. “She’ll help us get there. She knows where she’s going, she thinks strategically and is highly focused on the experience of our volunteers and patrons. She just gets it.”

“TCR has been on such an amazing growth trajectory and is producing at a level that’s really exemplary — but it’s not time to rest on our laurels,” Hallman said. “Now that we have a stable foothold, we’re ready to dig in and fortify the work going on here and lean into financial stability. ... We need to take a hard look at how we engage our community and deepen our connection, and I’m confident I’ll take us to the next level artistically and as an institution.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8364; elizabeth.zabel@thegazette.com

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