Martin Miller’s first month as executive director of the McCarter Theatre Center went better than he could have possibly dreamed. A series of sold-out performanes of McCarter’s opening show of the 2023-2024 season, Bulrusher, culminated in a visit from Tony-winning Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who Martin says lauded the production.
“I chatted with him at intermission,” says Martin. “He said, ‘This cast is phenomenal.’ I will say, the people who work behind the scenes or on stage at McCarter are very good at their jobs.”
Miller previously held the position of executive director and producer of TheatreSquared in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the state where he grew up. During his 13 years in that job, he helped the theater grow to produce more than 400 shows a year and make millions of dollars in annual revenue.
Four years ago, Miller moved to Princeton, where his wife is on the faculty of the music department at Princeton University. He says he had been attending shows at the McCarter Theatre Center for years prior to his appointment and had become a big fan. So, when the opportunity arose to take over the role of executive director, he was quick to embrace it.
The McCarter Theatre Center, which first opened in Princeton in 1930, began its current season this past September, coinciding with Miller’s start at the historic institution. McCarter has seen another recent change in staff as it approaches its 100th anniversary, with Sarah Rasmussen joining the theater as artistic director in 2020. While his time working with Rasmussen and the rest of the McCarter team has been short, Miller says it’s been an extremely positive experience.
“I’m really impressed by the talent and passion that all the staff members show for their work. There is a rigor here, a sense that there will be no compromise when it comes to the quality of what’s happening on stage,” he says.
The inaugural show of the season, Bulrusher, which wrapped up in early October, is a Pulitzer Prize-finalist play written by Eisa Davis.
Productions of Dreamgirls and Choice are coming up this spring.
McCarter also hosts single-show events, but Miller emphasizes that runs of plays and productions at the theater are the shows to see. The theater showcased The Woman in Black in October, and coming up are productions of Dreamgirls and Choice.
“Bulrusher is just such a beautiful and perfect evocation of what you can do when you create theater in your community,” says Martin. “It’s a rich, lyrical work with a perfect cast, beautiful set, and everybody who has come in to see it has just been completely taken aback by it.”
The McCarter Theatre Center has played an important role in the Princeton community, Miller points out. And he has plenty of goals set for the theater, including strengthening its partnership with Princeton University and getting more members of the community to come to the theater, even when there isn’t a show scheduled.
In the meantime, Miller encourages anyone who hasn’t seen a McCarter show to catch one soon, describing it as a premier, high-quality theater on par with Broadway. “Anyone who hasn’t experienced it should just get one ticket. That’s all it takes,” he says. “They’ll probably find that they have a new habit that they won’t be able to live without.”