Sheader, who has been the artistic director of London's Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre since 2007, will succeed Michael Longhurst in March 2024. Under his tenure, Regent's Park has won seven Olivier Awards and four Evening Standard Awards, with productions transferring to the West End and North America.
Sheader says, “What an absolute honor to follow in the footsteps of theatre giants and be asked to lead this remarkable theatre. The invitation live performance offers to share a moment in time together has never been more important, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to invite as many different audiences as possible to experience the life-enhancing feeling of being in that unparalleled space, where our imaginations can soar and magic happen.
“As the Donmar continues on its path as a financially independent theatre, I am very much looking forward to meeting and working with its many loyal members and supporters to create inclusive, accessible, and must-see work on and beyond the stage," Sheader continues. “I would like to thank all my colleagues, past and present, permanent and freelance, at the mighty Open Air Theatre for travelling with me on the most incredible journey. I am delighted to join Henny Finch, the Board, and all of the Donmar team, in serving audiences, old and new alike, in this unique and world class theatre.”
Donmar Chair of the Board Adam Kenwright adds, “Tim joins the company at an extraordinary time of opportunity for the Donmar, and we couldn’t be more delighted to welcome him. A popular and dynamic theatre maker and collaborator, he brings with him a wealth of experience of leading a company—one that sits outside the National Portfolio, yet one with proven artistic excellence and commercial savvy, that remains entirely committed to audience growth and diversity. It’s these very qualities, alongside those of our incredible Executive Director and joint CEO Henny Finch, that will forge an ideal partnership, attracting world class talent to our Covent Garden home and beyond, as he leads the artistic vision with the team over the coming years."
Executive Director and joint CEO Finch states, “During his time as artistic director of Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Tim has led with great creative talent, genuine care for artists, and vitally a commitment to making excellent work that appeals to a wide range of audiences. This energy, commitment, and experience make him the ideal candidate to succeed Michael, and, jointly with me, lead the Donmar’s talented team. I am very much looking forward to working with him as we navigate the next period of our history.”
Sheader has directed over 20 productions for Regent's Park, including the Olivier- and Evening Standard Award-winning musicals Into the Woods (also at the Public’s Delacorte); Hello, Dolly!; Crazy For You (also West End); and Jesus Christ Superstar which, following two sold-out seasons at Regent’s Park and a transfer to the Barbican, has been touring the U.S. for three years and embarks on a U.K. tour this September. Partnerships and co-productions have included work with the Barbican Centre, Chichester Festival Theatre, English National Opera, Leeds Playhouse, Roald Dahl Story Company, and the Unicorn Theatre.
Despite receiving no public subsidy, Sheader has ensured work at Regent’s Park has been accessible to all audiences, maintaining the theatre’s lowest ticket price of £25 for almost a decade. In addition to a comprehensive program of access performances, the theatre has also partnered with local charities, notably Camden Disability Action, Age UK Camden, and Pimlico Musical Foundation.
In August 2020, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre led the industry back to live performance with the first full-scale production to be produced in the U.K. after the reopening of its theatres.