For more than 20 years renowned director Sheldon Epps served as the artistic director for the Pasadena Playhouse. During his tenure Epps transformed the Pasadena Playhouse Theater into one of the region’s most prominent performing arts centers in the country.
During Epps run as artistic director he brought to Pasadena a level of unparalleled diversity. The respect and admiration that Epps had within the acting and theater community’s allowed him to make the playhouse one of the leading performance centers for actors, shows and attendees of color.
Epps retired from the playhouse in 2017 and since his leaving the Pasadena Playhouse has struggled to garner the same support and variety of shows that it was renowned for prior to COVID-19. Now Epps, has accepted the role of senior artistic advisor for Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. Yes, the site of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination will be lead by an African American. The theater which reopened its doors in 1968 and is operated in partnership with the National Park Service.
Epps will help to shape the company’s 2020-21 performance schedule once the theater re-opens post COVID-19. The theater hopes to bring forward a much more diverse audience once live performance return with the hope that Epps will bring the same changes and diversity to the Lincoln Theater that he brought to Pasadena.In a 2017 interview with the Sentinel Epps stated “I’m very proud of what happened here,(the Pasadena Playhouse) That includes the quality of the work, the status of the theater, variety and diversity or the work we’ve done.”
Admittedly some people did not agree with his vision of diversity.
However, it attracted far more people to this theater than those made angry and chased away.
As turned out it attracted far more people to the theater than those made angry and chased away.
“If people want to come to a theater where they’re not going to see diversity, then this is no longer their theater,” says Epps about his success over 20 years at the Pasadena Playhouse.
Epps was also credited with helping to rescue the playhouse from the financial brink in 2010, in part by helping to secure grants from individuals and major groups.
Pasadena Playhouse Board member Brenda Galloway said, “because of Sheldon, a new audience of theatergoers became supporters of the Pasadena Playhouse.”
“I believe that I can make important contributions as Ford’s Theatre continues its already admirable efforts in the areas of diversity, inclusion and ongoing artistic excellence,” Epps said in the announcement of his appointment. “I am especially happy to be of service at a time when all American theaters are exploring ways to transform today’s challenges into creative opportunities for the future.”
Currently there are no plans for Epps and his lovely wife Leslie to leave California. The current plan is for him to work remotely from his home in Pasadena.