MICHAEL BARNARD is entering his 24th season as The Phoenix Theatre Company’s Producing Artistic Director, concentrating his efforts on continued growth of the theatre in production, education, and the development of new American theatre. As Artistic Director, he has directed and choreographed numerous hits, including Cookin’s a Drag, West Side Story, Godspell, The Boob Show, and Newsies.
Michael 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, Michael grew up in Glendale and returned to Phoenix after receiving his degree.
Michael’s history with the theatre dates back to the early ‘80s when he was the organization’s first production manager from 1979 to 1982. He continued as a resident director/ choreographer until 1985. Prior to arriving back in the Valley in 1999, Michael was a senior show director for the Disney Corporation in Anaheim, directing over 400 corporate events and highly noted stage shows over nine years. In addition, he directed multiple studio film openings, countless industries, and the California Governor’s Arts Awards.
For the past sixteen years, he has freelanced with Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan and directed their REBORN parade, celebrating their fifteenth year. He was the director of the remount of their parade Parade de Carnival and created a variety of shows there, including Snapshots Show and The Laugh Makers.
Formerly the Director of Theatre for the City of Phoenix and Associate Producer of Musical Theatre of Arizona, Michael has directed over 560 productions from New York to Los Angeles, working for prestigious companies including 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, Michael 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.
Michael is devoted to a variety of social causes and has directed over 1,000 special events. He conceived The Phoenix Theatre Company outreach program Partners That Heal, now in its twelfth year of training actors to use improvisational theatre to bring laughter and comfort to children and their families in hospitals across Arizona. He’s received countless awards for his work including the 2011 National Arts and Letters Award, the 2012 Leadership in Arts Award from the YWCA, the 2015 Arts Leader Award from Phoenix Boys Choir, and the prestigious 2018 Ellis Island Medal of Honor. Michael, along with Vincent VanVleet, received the Champion of Compassion Award from CASA.
Michael is 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, Michael wrote and directed a statewide tour called The Empower Pack, an anti-tobacco, nutrition, and fitness musical targeted at eight to twelve-year-olds.
Michael owes much of his success at The Phoenix Theatre Company to the dedicated staff, board, artists, and to his husband Vincent, for his constant devotion, support, and nurturing of Michael and the theatre.