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Evan Cabnet named artistic director of Second Stage Theater

Cabnet will succeed Carole Rothman.

Evan Cabnet (Credit: Evan Zimmerman)

Second Stage Theater has revealed Evan Cabnet as its next artistic director. Cabnet will begin with the nonprofit in September, succeeding current artistic director and Second Stage co-founder Carole Rothman, who will depart the organization, as previously announced, in August. 

Cabnet will launch his first season of Second Stage programming, which encompasses Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, in fall 2025. Interim artistic director Bennett Leak will oversee the 2024-2025 season during the transition.

“I am excited and humbled to bring my passion for developing, nurturing and championing new work to Second Stage, one of New York’s most vital and influential homes for contemporary theater,” Cabnet said in a statement. “As my mentor André Bishop says, we are living in a golden age of American playwriting, and Second Stage’s incredible history, and the home Carole Rothman has created for artists, sits firmly at the center of this inspiring and culturally rich moment. I hope to honor her legacy as one of the truly great leaders of the American theater, and am looking forward to helping write the next chapter for such an extraordinary organization.”

Cabnet is currently the artistic director of the LCT3 program at Lincoln Center Theater, the nonprofit’s space dedicated to presenting works of new playwrights, directors and designers. During his eight-year leadership, LCT3 produced 20 productions, including Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s “Pass Over,” which subsequently transferred to Broadway. As a director, his credits include “Gloria” at the Vineyard Theatre, “Do I Hear a Waltz?” at City Center Encores! and the Main Stem mounting of “The Performers,” as well as Broadway’s “Thérèse Raquin” for Roundabout Theatre Company, where he previously served as artistic associate. His book “Directing New Plays” is slated for an October publication.

A 13-member search committee was formed to find Rothman’s successor. The committee was lead by Kevin Brockman, Second Stage’s co-chair of the board of trustees.

“From the start, Evan stood out amongst his peers,” said Brockman and fellow board co-chair Terry Lindsay in a statement. “He has a vast knowledge of and appreciation for American playwrights, and has spent his career championing new voices, giving opportunities to those who might not otherwise have their works showcased. He is one of the smartest and most ethical people in our community, and is beloved and admired by everyone with whom he’s worked. Just as important is his commitment to and belief in an equitable, diverse and inclusive workplace, both in front of and behind the footlights. It’s simply part of his DNA. Collaboration is key with Evan, but he’s not shy about stating opinions and is comfortable in the knowledge that the buck ultimately stops at his desk. We honestly don’t know how we got this lucky, but we’ll certainly take it. Evan is the future of Second Stage, and we can’t wait to see where he leads us.”

Second Stage’s 2024-2025 Broadway programming includes the recently announced “Cult of Love” by Leslye Headland, which is slated to begin previews on Nov. 20 and open on Dec. 12 at the Hayes Theater, the nonprofit’s Broadway house.