Carrie Rengers

Wayne Bryan casts an associate artistic director who one day may replace him at MTW

Behind the scenes at Music Theatre Wichita

From first rehearsals to final build and opening night, MTWichita employs 300 seasonal employees to make Broadway-scale musical entertainment possible right in the heart of downtown Wichita. (Courtesy of Music Theatre Wichita / Steven C. Smith / D
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From first rehearsals to final build and opening night, MTWichita employs 300 seasonal employees to make Broadway-scale musical entertainment possible right in the heart of downtown Wichita. (Courtesy of Music Theatre Wichita / Steven C. Smith / D

Wayne Bryan isn’t going anywhere just yet, but he’s taking the first steps toward who may succeed him as producing artistic director of Music Theatre Wichita.

After 32 years with the company, the 72-year-old says if something happened to him, “Nobody would say, ‘Oh, poor boy, we lost him in his prime.’ ”

Bryan has named Brian Marcum Music Theatre’s associate artistic director, and he’ll start next summer after the school season is over.

The Syracuse University assistant professor of acting has performed on Broadway in six shows — “The Gershwins’ Fascinating Rhythm,” “Saturday Night Fever,” “42nd Street,” “The Boy from Oz,” “The Drowsy Chaperone” and “Spamalot” — and has been involved with Music Theatre first as an actor during college and more recently through creating staging for “Hello, Dolly!,” “Mamma Mia!,” “Newsies,” “Freaky Friday,” “The Sound of Music,” “A Chorus Line” and “Chicago.”

“We love Brian,” Bryan says. “We love his work.”

He says Marcum is an artist who is smart and kind.

“And the fact that I’ll have a colleague to plot for the future is, I think, great fun,” Bryan says.

“We’re going to see how it works with him on the team.”

He says the assumption is that the two eventually will move to be co-producers, and finally Bryan will establish a new role for himself.

“We haven’t really figured out the title.”

He says the goal will be to remain involved.

“I think Brian will be able to find his own artistic voice and be able to use it,” Bryan says.

He says hiring a replacement with some form of “Bryan” in his name was not a prerequisite.

“Well, fortunately he spells it differently.”

Along with Marcum’s addition, director of development Angela Cassette has been promoted to managing director.

“She will have the management of the office and all of its aspects,” Bryan says. “That extends so far into the community.”

Bryan says the company already was “very lucky” to get Cassette as development director, and he says he’s happy for her expanded role in addition to adding Marcum.

“This all feels just very right.”

He says Cassette will be “doing a lot of the things that were on my plate when I first arrived.”

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Bryan first came to the company for a short stint as a guest actor and director in the summer of 1986.

“I thought that was to be my entire run in Kansas.”

In 1988, he became producer, motivated in part because he thought that “my dad would like to see me have a desk.”

Bryan says it used to be that once the summer’s performances were over, “We had nothing to do until spring.”

That’s changed significantly through the years.

The company has a rental business for its sets and costumes, it does the Jester Awards honoring high school performers, there are Music Theatre trips and fundraisers along with a teen choir.

“There’s just been a lot of expansion for our year-round activities,” Bryan says.

When he started, there was a four-person staff.

“We’ve only graduated to an eight-person staff.”

Bryan says most theaters this size have 15 to 18 employees.

In addition to adding Marcum, the company also is adding Amanda Bowman as development and marketing coordinator. Previously, she worked part time for Music Theatre in stage management.

Bowman will make Music Theatre’s ninth employee, and Marcum will make 10.

Also, production manager Mitch Southerland has been promoted to director of production.

Bryan says “the board has been very supportive” of him remaining involved, but all the changes come with mixed feelings, too.

“There isn’t any thing about my job that I don’t enjoy still, but I’m very excited that I am looking out for the future of the organization rather than just hanging on with my fingernails until I am not a good choice for this organization.”

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