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Theater legend calling it quits after 28 years

By Carole Mikita | Posted - Oct. 24, 2011 at 8:44 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY -- Theater legend Charles Morey, artistic director of the Pioneer Theatre Company, is retiring after nearly years with the organization.

"I thought at the (beginning) I might be here five years," he said. "Twenty-eight years later, I'm still here and coming to the end of that road."

Morey is pleased with the state of the arts at Pioneer Theatre Company and ready for another phase of life. He started as an actor, has written and adapted a number of successful productions, but always takes time to direct, to create great theater.

Before he retires, Morey will direct his favorite Shakespeare play, "The Tempest." It's almost like coming full circle -- "The Tempest" is the first Shakespeare play Morey directed when he took the lead at Pioneer Theatre Company 28 years ago. He chose it for his final creation before he retires.

"I love its combination of low comedy and high poetry, of truly profound themes and sort of base comedy, which I think is what life is all about," he said.

Morey is presently the longest tenured artistic director of any American regional theater. For nearly three decades he has set the bar high, directing critically-acclaimed comedies and dramas, some of which were his own adaptations.

His staff says he has led them through challenges, both artistic and financial. One of the things he is most pleased about is leaving this theater financially sound.

"We're in better shape than many of our colleagues in the arts, both locally and nationally," he commented. "We have no debt. We've been running in the black for consistently close to 20 years now."

What others call a part of his legacy, is how he and his staff welcomed performers and designers.

Actor Paul Kiernan explained, "I think the work he does cuts across a lot of lines, it touches a lot of people and it unifies, it unifies the community."

Another actor, Craig Wroe, added, "He's very generous of his time, of his intellect, of his energy. He's a really soulful person."

This will be somewhat of a long farewell because the season does not end until next May. Even then, Chuck Morey and his wife, Joyce Cohen, will return to share their talents.

E-mail: cmikita@ksl.com

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