The Crusader: Andrew Russell

Age: 28
Hometown: West Lafayette, Ind., amid the cornfields and horses
Current Neighborhood: Capitol Hill
Pets: Bike, Specialized Tricross, unnamed
Last Book Read: David Rakoff’s Half Empty

“At a time when it seems there is no place for the artist in the arts, Andrew Russell is putting artists in the driver’s seat,” says theatre director and designer Jennifer Zeyl.

Russell arrived in Seattle from New York two years ago when he took a job as associate producer at Intiman. But the one-time assistant to playwright Tony Kushner found himself unemployed last spring when the theatre temporarily shuttered to get its troubled finances in order. Russell spent the summer soaking up nature and participating in the Lincoln Center Directors Lab before pitching a big idea to the Intiman board of directors.

The idea was this: Pull together top-shelf Seattle talent for a summer theatre festival. The board gave Russell the green light and he has since assembled Zeyl, Seattle Symphony music director Ludovic Morlot, choreographer Olivier Wevers and more than a dozen other luminaries who will contribute to four summer plays—Shakespeare, Ibsen, an American classic and a new piece by Dan Savage—but only if Intiman can raise $1 million by February.

Russell not only has high standards and chutzpah, he’s a consummate workaholic. Last year he staged For a Look or a Touch, an opera about a gay couple in Nazi Germany, with Seattle Men’s Chorus and this month he directs The Callers, a musical about phone psychics and sex workers, at Washington Ensemble Theatre.

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Photography by Kyle Johnson at Melrose Market Studios.