Michael Barnard (Book and lyrics, Cookin's a Drag): Michael Barnard is currently entering his 19th season as Phoenix Theatre’s Producing Artistic Director, concentrating his efforts on the continued growth of the theatre in production, education and new work the development of new American theatre. This season, he will be directing (Newsies in the Mainstage Theatre, Godspell in the Hormel Theatre and a world premiere, The Boob Show, in the Judith Hardes Theatre.
Barnard received his Master’s in Theatre with an emphasis in directing at Northwestern University. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Arizona State University. Native born, Barnard grew up in Glendale and returned to Phoenix after receiving his degree.
Barnard's history with Phoenix Theatre dates back to the early 80s when he was the organization’s first production manager from 1979 to 1982. He then continued as a resident director/choreographer until 1985. Prior to arriving back in the Valley in 1999, Barnard was a senior show director for the Disney Corporation in Anaheim. He worked for Disney for nine years directing over 500 corporate events and the highly noted stage shows Pocahontas, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Festival of Fools and Animazement. In addition, he directed multiple studio film openings, countless industrials and the California Governor’s Arts Awards.
For the past 15 years, he has freelanced with Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan. While working for Universal in Osaka, he was recently the director of their REBORN parade, celebrating their 15th year. In addition, he was the director of the remount of their parade Parade de Carnival and he created their Snapshots Show, The Laugh Makers, Toto and Friends,The Emoticons, Despicable Me Minions Show and Snoopy Action Stage Show.
Barnard was the creator and director of the 100th Anniversary Calgary Stampede Arena Show (Tails), July 2012. He was the director of the Donny and Marie Christmas Show in 2011. He directed and musically staged the national tour of Veggie Tales. Formally the Director of Theatre for the City of Phoenix and Associate Producer of Musical Theatre of Arizona, Barnard has directed over 560 productions from New York to Los Angeles, working for such prestigious companies as The Walt Disney Company, Universal Studios Japan, Ashland Cabaret, Utah Shakespeare, Florida Stages, Santa Barbara CLO, Webster University, Forestburgh Playhouse NY, The Barrows Group NYC, St. Louis Playhouse, and PCPA. In Arizona, Barnard has directed and/or choreographed for Actor’s Theatre of Arizona, Arizona Jewish Theatre, The Phoenix Symphony, Black Theatre Troupe, Herberger Theatre Center, Valley Youth Theatre and Childsplay. Prior to this, Barnard produced, wrote and directed two touring show bands throughout the casino circuit – Montage and Spice.
Barnard has directed over 1,000 special events, including those for the Boys and Girls Club, Liberty Wildlife, Herberger Headliners, Phoenix Symphony, Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS, Governor’s Arts Awards, ASU Public Events, Heart Ball, Valley Leadership, March of Dimes, American Jewish League, Arizona Highways, SARRC, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, The Jewish Historical Society, Ryan House, The Arthritis Foundation, Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, American Breast Cancer Society, and Kidney Foundation. He has been the show director for IMTA, the International Models Talent Association, for 28 years.
Throughout these many shows and events, Barnard has had the pleasure of working with such notables as John Cullum, Ray Walston, Donna McKechnie, Teri Ralston, Kathy Fitzgerald, Nick Cartell, Natalie Ellis, Jenn Colella, Eden Espinoza, Charity Angel Dawson, Kristy Cates, and Donny and Marie Osmond.
Barnard was an adjunct professor at Arizona State University’s School of Music and was named 2009’s Artist of the Year by the Governor’s Arts Awards. In 2011, he received the National Arts and Letters Award for outstanding contribution to the field of Musical Theatre. In 2012, he was awarded Leadership in Arts Award from the YWCA, and in 2015, he received the Arts Leader Award from Phoenix Boys Choir.
Barnard is the co-author of Unstoppable Me, a children’s musical based on the Wayne Dyer book, and has written a children’s book entitled The Red Ornament. In addition, Barnard wrote and directed a statewide tour called The Empower Pack, an anti-tobacco, nutrition and fitness musical targeted at 8 to 12-year-olds.
Barnard is the head of Phoenix Theatre’s New Works Incubator, which assists in the professional development of new plays and musicals. He is currently working on several new musicals, including Reaction, a new revue of Rogers and Hammerstein’s work, and Americano!, a story of a dreamer. He is also the director of the production in development, Sweet Dreams, a musical featuring the catalog of Air Supply. As Artistic Director at Phoenix Theatre, he has directed and choreographed such hits including: Billy Elliot, Bullets Over Broadway,Chicago, The Toxic Avenger, The Wizard of Oz, Gypsy, Pippin, Mary Poppins, White Christmas, Spamalot, Nine, Hairspray, The 3 Redneck Tenors: Broadway Bound, The Producers, Crazy For You, Dream a Little Dream, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Guys and Dolls, Man of La Mancha, Children of Eden, Sophisticated Ladies, Into the Woods, Cabaret, The Will Rogers Follies, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Always…Patsy Cline, and Unbeatable to name a few. He also helped to create Lucky Star, which closed Phoenix Theatre’s 2007/2008 season.
Barnard owes much of his success at Phoenix Theatre to the dedicated staff, board and artists who believe in and are dedicated to the best work possible.
Michael Barnard, Producing Artistic Director / Vincent VanVleet, Managing Director