top of page
Microphone Close-Up


Inspiring award-winning performances from your talent: Crossover applications to business leadership from the theatrical development process with Charles Newell, Artistic Director of Court Theatre in Chicago

Charlie Newell Picture2.jpg

Welcome to Episode 24, Season 5, of the Leadership Lyceum: A CEO's Virtual Mentor. 


I'm joined in the program today by Charles Newell, the Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director of the renowned and critically acclaimed Court Theatre in Chicago. 


This interview was recorded in the summer of 2019 as the Court Theatre's production of the play, The Adventures of Augie March, had completed its record-breaking performance run. We had intended to publish this episode early this year in 2020, but COVID hit and it seemed a little bold to put this out at the early stage of the pandemic. The world had other pressing items that deserved attention. But now, in the middle of the holiday season, we've been without live theater and entertainment for nine months, we thought this interview might be not only informative, but also soothing at this stage of the pandemic.  


This interview is timeless and gets deep into a theatrical production's creative process as seen through the mind's eye of the director. In general, we, as an audience of entertainment, be it sports or the performing arts, are often spoiled with the perfection and professionalism of the finished product. But what is involved or required from a leadership perspective to develop and burnish the performance into the form to which we are also accustomed? What goes on in the business of theater has crossover applications to all business leaders.  


We'll cover a wide range of topics in today's program. We'll outline the organizational form of the Court Theatre, including its governance, funding and management structure. But the majority of our time will be spent stepping through the phases of the creation of a production from script selection to closing night. 


Program Guide Episode 24

You can listen to this episode via the player above and follow along with the program guide or subscribe to our podcast where ever you listen to your podcasts.

0:00  Introduction to the program and Charles Newell, Artistic Director of the Court Theatre in Chicago

3:20  Court Theatre’s history, governance structure, funding sources and unique structure with the University of Chicago.


5:09  Achieving high caliber of performances on a smaller budget than peers theater companies in Chicago


7:25  Unique mission and social-societal outcomes of Court Theatre in the realm of national theater.

10:39  Break 1


11:19  Phase 1 of the Theatrical Development Process: Finding and developing a script.


17:11  Break 2


17:27  Phase 2 of the Theatrical Development Process: Developing the look and feel of the production. Revealing the collaborative creative process.


25:01  Break 3


25:35  Phase 3 of the Theatrical Development Process: The Casting Process. Dealing with barriers and constraints.


32:45  Break 4


34:51  Phase 4 of the Theatrical Development Process: Production development, rehearsal, and refinement. Inspiring and motivating actors to perform at their best.


39:20  Break 5


39:46  Phase 5 of the Theatrical Development Process: The arc of production and performance evolution from opening night to closing night. Keeping a production evolving and improving in the absence of continuous rehearsals.


49:33  Break 6


50:03  Retrospective self-reflection on the evolution of a theater director.


55:06  Conclusion and coming attractions. 

Informative and Helpful Links 

Biographies of Guests


Mr. Charles Newell


Charles Newell is the Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director of Court Theatre. He was awarded the SDCF Zelda Fichandler Award, “which recognizes an outstanding director or choreographer who is transforming the regional arts landscape through singular creativity and artistry in theatre.”


Charlie has been Artistic Director at Court Theatre since 1994, where he has directed over 50 productions. He made his Chicago directorial debut in 1993 with The Triumph of Love, which won the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Production. Charlie’s productions of Man of La Mancha and Caroline, or Change have also won Best Production Jeffs. Other directorial highlights at Court include All My SonsThe Hard Problem, Man in the RingOne Man, Two GuvnorsSatchmo at the WaldorfAgamemnonThe Secret GardenIphigenia in AulisM. ButterflyThe MisanthropeTartuffeProofAngels in AmericaAn IliadPorgy and BessThree Tall WomenTitus AndronicusArcadiaUncle VanyaRaisinThe Glass MenagerieTravestiesWho’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?The Invention of Love; and Hamlet. Charlie has also directed at Goodman Theatre (Rock ‘n’ Roll), Guthrie Theater (The History Cycle, Cymbeline), Arena Stage, John Houseman’s The Acting Company (Staff Repertory Director), the California and Alabama Shakespeare Festivals, Juilliard, and New York University. He has served on the Board of TCG, as well as on several panels for the NEA. Opera directing credits include Marc Blitzstein’s Regina (Lyric Opera), Rigoletto (Opera Theatre of St. Louis), Don Giovanni and The Jewel Box  (Chicago Opera Theater), and Carousel (Glimmerglass).  

Charlie was the recipient of the 1992 TCG Alan Schneider Director Award, and has been nominated for 16 Joseph Jefferson Director Awards, winning four times. In 2012, Charlie was honored by the League of Chicago Theatres with its Artistic Achievement Award. 



Your host Thomas B. Linquist is the Founder and Managing Director of Lyceum Leadership Consulting and Lyceum Leadership Productions. Over his 15 years in management and leadership consulting he has served a wide array of corporate clients.  This includes leadership assessment and search for chief executive officers, chief financial officers, chief operating officers and boards of directors.  He holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and over his 30-year career has served in a variety of roles: as an engineer with Shell Oil Company, a banker with ABN AMRO Bank, and as treasurer was the youngest corporate officer in the 150+ year history at Peoples Energy Company in Chicago.  He is an expert on hiring and promotion decisions and leadership development.  Over the course of his search career, he has interviewed thousands of leaders. 

Program Disclaimer

The only purpose of the podcasts is to educate, inform and entertain. The information shared is based on the collection of experiences of each of the guests interviewed and should not be considered or substituted for professional advice. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experience and conclusions, and neither The Leadership Lyceum LLC nor any company providing financial support endorses or opposes any particular content, recommendation or methodology discussed in this podcast.


This podcast Leadership Lyceum: A CEO’s Virtual Mentor has been a production of The Leadership Lyceum LLC. Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.

bottom of page