Back to Stage

Welcome to the family

Lakewood Playhouse Managing Artistic Director John Munn on the inclusive world of theater

Lakewood Playhouse Artistic Director John Munn spends time in all aspects of live theater. Photo credit: Dennis Kurtz, Tacoma Little Theatre

Recommend Article
Total Recommendations (0)
Clip Article Email Article Print Article Share Article

The South Sound theater community is populated with a cavalcade of intensely passionate participants -- both onstage and behind the scenes. It's an unending source of joy to see so many familiar names pop up as actors or crew members for all the plays that we get to enjoy from our many different theater companies. One of the most vocal and enthusiastic contributors to our theater scene is John Munn, who is now entering his ninth year as the managing artistic director for Lakewood Playhouse.

Besides his work with Lakewood Playhouse, Munn takes part in just about every aspect of live theater, including acting, directing, and sound design (which he's currently handling for Lakewood Playhouse's upcoming production of Inspecting Carol). Munn, having recently finished directing a production of A Little Night Music at Tacoma Little Theatre, has been an outspoken supporter of theater companies working in cooperation with each other, not in competition, to create a thriving ecosystem of creative opportunity, driven foremost by inclusion.

"I first walked into a theater when I was 8," said Munn. "You walk into a theater when you're 12, and 16, and 23 -- every year, when you walk into a theater, they immediately take you in. You become part of a family. I really believe in that. I was a shy, awkward kid, and I'm still pretty introverted, but when you're around theater people, you can just be yourself and they accept you for who you are."

When Munn was around 16 years old, he got the opportunity to go to London and meet with Tim Curry, who was then starring in The Pirates of Penzance.

"We got to go to dinner, afterwards, with Tim Curry, and he asked me, ‘What is it that you do?'" said Munn. "I said, ‘I'm a student,' and he said, ‘No, what do you do?' I said that I was an actor, and he said, ‘Oh, well, welcome to the family.' He was sincere. I didn't feel like I was being talked down to; I didn't feel like I was being belittled; I felt like I was honestly being welcomed. He probably wouldn't remember me from Adam, but (theater has) always been family to me. I've had a lot of family through the years, and kept so many of them, lost some of them due to time and health, but when you see them again, if you can see them again, you pick up right where you left off."

Munn speaks lovingly about Marcus Walker, the artistic director who preceded Munn at Lakewood Playhouse. Walker passed away from a bout with cancer, but not before positioning Munn to take over as his replacement. As Munn explains, he sees himself merely as the caretaker for Lakewood Playhouse (the fifth artistic director in a series of 50, as he says), and an emphatic collaborator with the South Sound theater scene's continued strength and cross-pollination. Munn and his colleagues in our theater scene understand that a rising tide lifts all boats, which should bode well for audiences in the years to come.

Read next close


Those overcast blues

comments powered by Disqus

Site Search