Kevin Gillese is leaving his job at Dad’s Garage Theatre Company, but he’s not leaving the fun. On January 1, he’ll step down as artistic director after 10 years but remain an ensemble member, lead Dad’s Garage Television and anchor a new initiative to advance the Dad’s brand.
“The truth is that as the company has grown over the years, my job has become increasingly focused on admin, management and HR, none of which I’m particularly passionate about,” Gillese said in an open letter on Facebook. “I’ve had less and less time to perform, write and direct on artistic projects. So this move has a lot to do with me getting back to the reasons I got into the whole showbiz game in the first place. I love making stuff with my friends, and that’s something I can’t wait to get back to.”
Ensemble member Jon Carr will become interim artistic director and begin an overlap with Gillese in December. The Dad’s board has built a transition task force and will hold a national search for a permanent successor. Managing director Lara Smith, the other half of Dad’s leadership team, has been on the job for nine years and remains.
Carr, who considers Dad’s his artistic home, has been an ensemble member for seven years and worked as marketing director from 2014 to 2019. He’s now an audience development manager at the Alliance Theatre.
The board credits Gillese with increasing diversity among Dad’s artists, adding 8 p.m. shows, creating DGTV and leading efforts to find a permanent home on Ezzard Street in the Old Fourth Ward. It also credits him with opening new streams of revenue, expanding Dad’s audience base and installing a more professional business model.
Not so incidentally, Gillese met his wife on the job. He’s married to ensemble member Amber Nash, who’s probably best known as the voice of Pam Poovey on the FX animated show Archer. Their family includes a pooch named Carol J. Puppydog.
Gillese, who comes from Canada, says he’ll spend much of the next year making movies and touring with such improv pals as Colin Mochrie.
Dad’s produces a mix of improv and scripted shows 52 weeks a year, entertaining more than 33,000 people annually in Atlanta, at public events across the state and at improv festivals across the continent. It also educates young improvisers in a high school outreach program, and facilitates classes and workshops for the general public.