Press Release

PlayMakers Repertory Company Welcomes New Managing Director and Associate Artistic Director

Nichole Gantshar and Jeffrey Meanza join leadership team during theatre’s 46th season

(Chapel Hill, N.C., November 19, 2021)PlayMakers Repertory Company today announced two additions to its leadership team. Nichole Gantshar has joined the company as its new Managing Director, and Jeffrey Meanza has returned to the role of Associate Artistic Director, after nationwide searches that spanned throughout 2021.

As Managing Director, Gantshar will partner with Producing Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch to oversee strategic planning for the long-term vision of the company. She will lead PlayMakers’ administrative organization overseeing marketing, fundraising, general and company management, and serve as the theatre’s primary administrative liaison with UNC-Chapel Hill. As Associate Artistic Director, Meanza will work with Benesch to advance and facilitate all aspects of the artistic vision of the theatre. He will act as principal line producer for PlayMakers’ season and oversee educational programming, including PRC’s nationally known Summer Youth Conservatory, and the theatre’s community outreach efforts. Meanza will also direct and act with the company.

“Nichole and Jeff are smart, intuitive, experienced, and passionate leaders whom I am thrilled to get to partner with as PlayMakers steps into its next bright chapter. Like many American theatres, PlayMakers has been digging into some significant change and transformative initiatives in recent years, and I know that both these fantastic artist-citizens can help guide us forward with integrity and bravery,” said PlayMakers Producing Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch.

“Nichole brings a wonderfully fresh set of ideas from other performing arts disciplines, and a track record of responsible, careful, and caring growth that centers on artists and staff, as well as ways to excite and attract new audiences. Jeff has a brilliant artistic mind, a strong shared vision of the importance of nurturing new voices and new works, and an innate sense of community building that runs in his DNA. I am thrilled to walk into the future of PlayMakers with these two amazing people by my side.”

Nichole Gantshar comes to PlayMakers with a strong history of leading arts groups through/to strategic growth, investment in new works, and audience development. Most recently, she served as Interim Finance & Operations Officer at Theatre Bay Area and Executive Director of Louisville Ballet. She spent five years as Executive Director of Rochester City Ballet, where she led efforts to significantly increase grant funding, spearheaded audience development—most notably among millennial audiences through a project called balletroc—and secured funding for free, sensory-friendly performances. During her tenure, Gantshar also focused on increasing artist pay and the commissioning of new work. She holds an MFA from the University at Stony Brook, a BFA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and has taught at Syracuse University, University at Stony Brook, University of Pittsburgh and the Wooster Center for the Arts.

“I’ve traveled to Chautauqua all of my adult life and for 12 seasons I was able to see PlayMakers Producing Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch delight audiences and grow the theatre program,” Gantshar said. “To be able to join her and support the efforts of her transformational vision at PlayMakers inspires me. I can’t wait to join Rotary, become an impactful volunteer in The Triangle community, and help continue PlayMakers significant mission. The pandemic has been so hard for all of us, the return of live theatre will help us all heal.”

Jeffrey Meanza returns to PlayMakers after a five-year tenure as Associate Artistic Director at the Guthrie Theater, where he led successful efforts to grow its educational programming to serve more than 35,000 students annually and created an artist residency program that put full-time teaching artists in high schools throughout Minnesota. Under his leadership, the Guthrie also piloted a Fellowship program for emerging leaders in the arts communities. Meanza holds an MFA in Acting from the Professional Actor Training Program at UNC-Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Theater and Performance Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

“It’s a unique opportunity to make this homecoming to Chapel Hill and PlayMakers. I have long admired Vivienne’s vision of a dynamic artistic home for writers, directors and artists of all stripes. Her ongoing commitment to celebrating diverse voices and exploring classic texts through a contemporary lens are deeply thrilling to me. I feel so lucky to jump back in and support the importance of the performing arts at Carolina and in the Triangle.”

PlayMakers returns to the magic of live, in-person theatre for its 46th season beginning November 2021. The season features five productions by powerhouse playwrights, exploring the resilience of family bonds in all their complicated forms, the search for identity and authenticity in a world determined to sell it, friendships that transcend language, time, and space, and one man’s connection to his community that helps him stand taller than he could alone. All performances will be presented in the 550-seat Paul Green Theatre inside the Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill.

About PlayMakers
PlayMakers Repertory Company is North Carolina’s premier professional theatre company. For more than 40 years, the company has produced relevant and courageous work that tells stories from and for a multiplicity of perspectives to create transformational impact in our immediate and extended communities. PlayMakers is proud to be part of a 100-year tradition of playmaking at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. PlayMakers has been named one of the best regional theatres in America.

PlayMakers: Diana Pineda, 919-962-7114,