Get to Know John DiAntonio: Our New Artistic Director
We are thrilled to welcome John DiAntonio to the Utah Shakespeare Festival. In September, DiAntonio was announced as the Festival’s new Artistic Director after an extensive nation-wide search.
Now, we’d like to share more about DiAntonio with our patrons with this full-length Q&A article and get-to-know-you video.
The Festival: Can you share with us a bit about yourself and your journey into theatre?
DiAntonio: I’m from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and am the oldest of four siblings. I was an athlete growing up, but I also loved to paint and draw. I didn’t discover theatre until late in the game. My father is an engineer and my mother is an accountant, so I didn’t know theatre existed until I was in ninth grade in English class.
We were reading Romeo and Juliet, and after class, my teacher came up to me and said, ‘You should consider taking theatre.’ So, my sophomore year, I signed up for my first theatre class, and my head exploded a bit. It funneled all of that class clown energy into the right place. Theatre is always where the misfits can find their ensemble, and I certainly found that.
I discovered the bonds that form when you put a play together, what it’s like stepping into a character, getting to experience all the emotions like grief, love, passion in a safe environment. I fell in love with it, and the rest is history.
The Festival: You most recently worked at Creede Repertory Theatre in Creede, Colorado. Can you share an accomplishment you’re particularly proud of in your previous role as Producing Artistic Director?
DiAntonio: I was the Artistic Director for four years, a member of the staff for eight years, and part of the seasonal staff for 12 years. I spent a lot of time there. I was thrilled with our 2023 season in every way. We hit a revenue record, it was our second-best season of all time, and we were above pre-pandemic numbers which was fantastic.
But artistically, the shows, the lineup . . . I was incredibly proud of the artistic quality and what was presented, including the diversity of those shows and the stories being told.
There was a cohesiveness to the company, and folks were just leaning into what we were trying to accomplish. It felt like we were living our vision, and it was a great season to wrap things up on.
The Festival: The Utah Shakespeare Festival holds a special place in the hearts of many. What drew you to this position and what resonates with you about the Festival?
DiAntonio: I am so honored to be taking on this new role. I’ve always looked up to this theatre and revered the work that’s been done here. When I was moving to Denver for grad school, my mother and I stopped at the Festival and saw all the shows, and it was an incredibly pivotal point in my life. At Creede, I saw it as a big brother or big sister theatre of what we could become.
There’s so many things that resonate with me. First, the power of repertory theatre and what it means. I’ve experienced rep as a performer and audience member.
Repertory theatre pushes everyone in the company [and audience] and forces you to grow.
Also, what an honor to make Shakespeare the cornerstone of the work here.
The Festival: Can you share your favorite play that’s been featured here at the Festival?
DiAntonio: At this point in my life, Henry IV Parts I and II are the plays that resonate most with me. Now that I am a father, hold leadership roles, and have dealt with a pandemic . . . it’s been a time of growth that has felt like war at some points. I resonate with the character arc of Prince Hal.
The Festival: How do you plan to immerse yourself in our local community and culture?
DiAntonio: My family and I are excited to become a part of this community in every way. My wife and I have three little kids, and we can’t wait for them to be a part of the school system and make new friends. We are big outdoorsy folks, and we’ve started hiking trails. We went to the farmer’s market the other day, and it was glorious, and there are so many wonderful restaurants.
We are coming from a tiny town, that during winter, had 400 people. We learned what community is all about there, and we will bring that mentality here.
I can’t wait to work with Southern Utah University, it’ll be a wonderful thing for both institutions. We can’t wait to get to know everyone and dive in!