Totem Pole Playhouse is one of the best known and highly-regarded summer theatres in the United States. Totem Pole’s legacy extends to the pinnacle of almost every facet of the entertainment industry.
Founding Artistic Director Karl Genus (1950 to 1952) helped organize and establish the Directors Guild of America. The DGA is the union which represents directors working in film, television, commercials, documentaries, news, sports and new media today. Mr. Genus served on the Board of Directors of the DGA for 27 years, many of those as Vice President, until his passing in 2003.
William H. (Bill) Putch (1953 to 1983) ran the Playhouse for 30 years. He directed over 300 productions, many starring his wife, Emmy Award-winning actress, Jean Stapleton from the classic TV series, All in the Family. It was during his tenure that the Playhouse came to national prominence.
After Mr. Putch’s passing, his daughter, Pamela Putch, and resident actors, Carl Schurr and Wil Love, guided the Playhouse through the following summer season.
Ms. Putch left Totem Pole Playhouse after the 1984 season. She currently serves as the Senior Vice-President of Production for NBC/Universal where she oversees all of the networks prime time programming as well as their live televised Broadway musical productions.
Messrs. Schurr and Love (1984 to 2013) served as Producing Artistic Director and Associate Artistic Director, respectively. In addition to overseeing the summer seasons at the Playhouse, they staged productions that would later move to Philadelphia’s historic Walnut Street Theatre. They are currently resident actors with the Everyman Theatre in Baltimore, MD.
Ray Ficca, Artistic Director from 2008 through 2013, currently serves as the president of the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Washington, D.C.
In 2013, Rowan Joseph became Totem Pole’s Producing Artistic Director. In addition to running the Playhouse, Joseph heads Greenwood Hill Productions, where he directed and produced the critically acclaimed feature film, Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun starring Ben McKenzie. He is also co-owner of Theatre A Go-Go, Inc. which has produced national tours and Off-Broadway productions including The Queen of Bingo, Tapestry, the Music of Carole King, and An Evening with Jack Klugman among others.
Totem Pole Playhouse has many distinguished alumni working in the American Theatre. In fact, three of the four cast members in the recent Tony Award nominated new play, A Doll’s House, Part 2, Stephen McKinley Henderson and Tony Award winners, Jayne Houdyshell and Julie White, began their careers at Totem Pole Playhouse.