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'Rent,' 'Romeo and Juliet,' and 'Fences' Mark Redhouse's 1st Season Under New Artistic Director

Scott Willis

Redhouse Arts Center is beginning its 2019-2020 season with a new Artistic Director. WAER News caught up with Hunter Foster to discuss the upcoming season, life in New York City, and the arts in Syracuse.  

The musical Rent, a story about young people coming together in the 90s to face the AIDS Crisis, will be the first of six shows in the new Redhouse season.  New Artistic Director Hunter Foster it will be presented "in the round," a first in Syracuse, where the audience surrounds the stage.

"I wanted to open the season with a bang, with something contemporary, something we felt would make a big impression right off the bat."

The theme of the season is "family."  Hunter says he considered a few things when choosing this season’s shows:

"One is a theme.  I don't want to randomly throw darts at something and say 'this is what we're doing.'  I put a collection of shows together that had a consisent theme from beginning to end.  I also wanted to find something that would speak to the community, but also respected the history of what Redhouse was doing.   Redhouse seems to be a little bit edgier, a bit more contemporary.  It felt a little less traditional and more cutting edge, and that was how I thought about the season."

Credit provided photo
Artistic Director Hunter Foster says he's glad to be in Syracuse where people seem to appreciate good theater.

These larger productions have everything to do with the company moving into a new space with three theaters instead of one. It will have its own costume shop as well as its own scene shop where sets can be made in-house. Foster says he’s glad to be in Syracuse where everyone shares the same passion and artistic vision.

"You can either walk into a situation where there is a history of 'here's how we've done things.'  And there is a little bit of that.  But because this is a reset for the theater, there's also a 'we can create our own traditions, way of doing things, and redefine how things are done here.' And everyone wants to do that, because everything's new."

Foster started in theater when he was 13. Since then, he has spent 27 years in New York City writing, acting, directing, and producing shows.  In all, Foster has been in 10 Broadway shows in the city and around the country. He is excited for his new role at Redhouse and the opportunity to mentor the next generation of writers, actors, and directors.

"I think in the [New York] city, other things take prescedent over the art because the stakes are higher. It's about commerce, and you're dealing in the millions of dollars.  It's about promoting yourself to a certain level.  In a smaller community, it's about putting on really good theater.  That to me is refreshing."

After Rent, audiences will be treated to productions of God of Carnage, A Syracuse Christmas Carol, Romeo and Juliette, and Fences. The season will wrap up with a musical about a young girl discovering her sexuality while uncovering the mystery surrounding her father.

"We're finishing up with the sixth show in May, which will be the Syracuse premiere of the Pulitzer-prize winning and Tony-Award winning musical Fun Home."

More information, and Early Bird tickets for the upcoming Redhouse season can be found on the Redhouse website.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at