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Justin Lucero. (Photo by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.)

Justin Lucero Named Theater Latté Da Artistic Director

Lucero succeeds founding artistic director Peter Rothstein, who left the company in June after 25 years.

MINNEAPOLIS and ST. PAUL: Theater Latté Da (TLD) has named Justin Lucero their new artistic director. Lucero, who is currently the artistic director of El Paso Opera, will join TLD in October.

“Justin’s extensive knowledge and obvious passion for musical theatre and opera, his imaginative artistry, and his kind and collaborative leadership style are deeply aligned with the values that define Theater Latté Da,” managing director Elisa Spencer-Kaplan said in a statement. “I’m so excited to work with Justin to continue building TLD as a resource for our Minnesota community and a leader in bringing new and reimagined musical stories to the stage.”

Lucero, who will succeed TLD founding artistic director Peter Rothstein, has been wtih El Paso Opera since 2012 and has been their artistic director for the past five years. His directing credits include Abingdon Theatre Company, Pittsburgh Festival Opera, City Theatre Company, Creede Repertory Theatre, the University of Texas El Paso, and the University of Houston. He was the co-founding artistic director of Scaffolding Theatre Company and was a member of the 2022-23 Theatre Communications Group’s Rising Leaders of Color cohort. He currently serves on the TCG Next Generation task force. With his move to Minnesota, Lucero will leave his position as assistant professor and associate area chair of the John Wells Directing Program at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama. At Carnegie Mellon, Lucero led efforts to establish a school-wide degree requirement in anti-racist and equitable theatre practices. Lucero holds an MFA in theatre directing from the East 15 Acting School at the University of Essex and an undergraduate degree from Texas Christian University.

“It is with true enthusiasm that I accept this position and join this inspiring organization and vibrant community,” Lucero said in a statement. “I believe unwaveringly in the power of music-driven theatre and I take very seriously the responsibilities we have as culture-makers and stewards of the art form. And I believe in the talents and abilities of my new and magnificent partner, Elisa, and the exceptional TLD staff to harness that power and to take up those responsibilities along with me.” 

TLD selected Lucero after a national search led by Tiffany Vega-Gibson and Leandro Zaneti of the arts search firm Evolution Management Consultants in conjunction with an 11-member committee of representatives from TLD’s artistic community, staff, and board.

Theater Latté Da is celebrating its 26th season in the Twin Cities, where it has presented 87 mainstage productions, including 16 world premieres. Through the annual NEXT Festival of New Musicals and other new works programs, TLD adds to the canon of American musical theatre works. As of 2021, the theatre had a budget of approximately $3.1 million.

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