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PRESS RELEASE: New Executive Director, Emily Lynn Cornelius

August 22, 2023

Santa Rosa, CA – 6th Street Playhouse is delighted to announce Emily Lynn Cornelius as their new executive director. With a profound connection to the theater’s history, Emily’s journey began locally with the Santa Rosa Players, which evolved into the esteemed 6th Street Playhouse. Her return to the company she admires coincides with their 52nd year, marking an exciting chapter of growth and creativity.

Emily graduated from El Molino High School and got her start in community theater at Santa Rosa Players performing in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” and then choreographing and stage managing “Brigadoon” and “Carousel.”

Emily’s 20+ successful years in the professional performing arts industry is founded on her strong, accessible communication and ability to synergize different perspectives and ideas. Her skills as a leader include creating space to explore and unite these different perspectives towards a common artistic goal. Theater, and each individual production can only triumph when all participants, onstage and off, know they are safe, respected, and essential to the team. Her long-term vision is to be a prominent voice in Sonoma County Theater by engaging audiences, forming public and private partnerships, and supporting all artists through compassion, respect, and coherent leadership of a vibrant institution.

Emily spent over 14 years with The Metropolitan Opera in New York City as manager of Artist Relations and Rehearsal Department manager. She served as first point of contact for up to 600 principal artists, directors and creative staff in a repertory season averaging 26 opera productions and over 300 performances annually. She left her mark in New York, directing and producing numerous productions with acclaimed groups such as The Village Light Opera Group and Victor Herbert Renaissance Project, LIVE! Her expertise extends to managing touring productions and Off-Broadway performances for The Flying Karamazov Brothers. As a producer, Emily is well-versed in budget management, collaboration facilitation, and cultivating a harmonious working environment.

During her tenure as artistic administrator at the San Diego Repertory Theater, Emily’s exceptional grant-writing skills ensured the success of bilingual outreach and educational initiatives. She played an instrumental role in strategic real estate transactions and community engagement efforts at The Village Light Opera Group. Emily’s artistic vision focuses on building meaningful social service partnerships, enhancing theatre accessibility, and delivering impactful performances.

Emily is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in Directing and her passion lies in uniting artists, audiences, and communities through compassionate leadership. Her commitment aligns perfectly with 6th Street Playhouse’s dedication to providing a transformative, live performing arts experience.

“I have nothing but wonderful things to say about Emily,” writes Craig Miller, former Artistic Director of 6th Street Playhouse, and currently assistant professor of Acting and Directing at the University of Idaho Theatre Arts Department. “Emily is a lovely human being, very forthright, organized, and seems to be quite the empath and lover of fellow humans and definitely enrolled in everyone’s success.”

“Emily is just the right person to carry us forward; she is coming home to run the company that ignited her enthusiasm for theater, and she is very well respected in the theater community and will maintain the quality of theater our patrons have come to expect, and to which we are committed,” said Dorothy Beattie, executive board president. “We also extend our heartfelt gratitude to Aja Gianola-Norris who has served as interim executive director since May, guiding us through this transition period. As ever, our unwavering mission is to astonish the community with an exceptional, inclusive, immersive performing arts journey.”

Throughout the transition period, 6th Street Playhouse has continued its dedication to providing the community with amazing live performing arts experiences. The Studio, the Playhouse’s home for educational theater, offers programming for over 800 youth both in-house and through their after school enrichment program with Rincon Valley Union School District (RVUSD). The commitment of staff and volunteers to Studio education initiatives includes the expansion of shows for young audiences, including the ongoing “Elephant and Piggie” production, and the eagerly awaited premiere of “Fiddler on the Roof.”
About 6th Street Playhouse

6th Street Playhouse is a nonprofit performing arts organization that has been producing superlative live theatre and education programs through its 6th Street Studio since 2006. The Playhouse is the central hub of the Sonoma County arts scene. It is known throughout the region for its high-level of artistry, professionalism and educational opportunities, and its innovative approach to works both new and old. 6th Street Playhouse has been named “Best Theatre Troupe” by the Bohemian readership for the last eight consecutive years and “Best Local Theatre Company” by the Press Democrat “Best of Sonoma County” awards for five out of the last six years. The 6th Street Studio offers educational programming for over 800 youth both in-house and through their partnerships with Chops Teen Club and the Rincon Valley Education Fund.

6th Street Playhouse has received over 50 nominations for excellence in all areas of production from the leading Theatre Arts adjudication organizations in the Bay Area, including the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC), Theatre Bay Area (TBA), and Sonoma One Theatre Awards (SOTA). Santa Rosa Players, DBA 6th Street Playhouse. EIN 94-1748527.

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Santa Rosa’s 6th Street Playhouse names new executive director

Emily Cornelius brings experience in theater, both locally and nationally, to her new job.

Emily Lynn Cornelius, who has roots in the Sonoma County theater community and professional performing arts experience in New York, will go to work Sept. 5 as the new executive director at the 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square.

A graduate of El Molino High School, she got her start in community theater at Santa Rosa Players, a precursor of the 6th Street Playhouse, performing in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” and then choreographing and stage managing “Brigadoon” and “Carousel.”

“This is a real success story of what happens when our schools pay attention to the arts, we have community that supports the arts and we in the arts support our communities,” said Dorothy Beattie, the theater’s board president.

“This appointment is exactly what I have been working towards since first setting foot on the Santa Rosa Players stage,” Cornelius added.

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Dan Taylor

The Press Democrat

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