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Genise receives top billing from Actors' Theatre

Livia Genise has been named managing artistic director of Actors' Theatre.

Creighton Barnes, president of the Talent-based non-profit's board of directors, made the announcement after an evening performance of Annie, the theater company's holiday program and the first show presented by Genise, who had held the group's top job on an interim basis since September.

In accepting the director's position, she emphasized her view that the small theater is a place for the entire audience of the Rogue Valley, including students, seniors, singles and parents.

We will be offering plays and musicals that not only challenge but uplift our audience, in addition to providing training for the next generation of theater artists, Genise said.

Barnes said the managing in Genise's job title refers to her responsibilities in managing the business end of the theater in addition to the artistic side.

Genise, a 1969 graduate of what is now Southern Oregon University, worked as an actor, director and education director at the Willows Theatre Co. in San Jose, Calif., the Marin Theatre Conservatory in California, and in other theaters. Part of her focus was training children and involving them in theater. Annie features children in several roles.

Genise was hired by the board on a temporary basis to take over the theater after a falling-out between then-artistic director Peter Alzado and the theater's board of directors led to Alzado's departure. He subsequently formed another company, the Ashland-based Oregon Stage Works.

Much of the highly publicized flap that attended Alzado's departure focused on whether he staged too many edgy plays for the theater's audience's taste, and on the roles of a theater's artistic director and its board in programming and in managing business.

Genise already has announced a season of plays for 2003. She said she picked them without interference from anyone.

A recent report from the Oregon Attorney General's Office criticized the theater's board for not taking a more active role in raising money for the group's productions and for a mortgage balloon payment.

Genise has earned high marks for both her work in the theater and in the community. The new job was advertised as far away as San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Reach reporter Bill Varble at 776-4478 or e-mail