When Robb Hunt helped found Village Theatre in 1979, it ran as a collaboration of unpaid artists. Now, it has an operating budget of $13.2 million between its Issaquah and Everett locations and is one of the most-attended professional theaters in the region with more than 20,000 subscribers. Though Hunt’s title is executive producer, he’s better-described as the CEO, overseeing the operations of Village’s nine departments. He’s also devoted to giving legs to new productions. Over the organization’s 40-year history, 160 new shows have launched from the arms of Village Theatre — some of which went on to become award-winning works. On a recent afternoon, Hunt offered us a quick tour of his career, which lives as memorabilia bespeckling his office walls.
An Artist’s Interpretation
About a decade ago, the Issaquah Press in collaboration with ArtEast honored Hunt and roughly 10 other community leaders for their contributions to the city. Each of them was paired with an artist who created an original work that represented them. Pictured is Hunt, interpreted by painter Miska Salemann.
‘And the Award Goes To …’
Two of perhaps the most famous works to incubate on Village Theatre’s stage were Million Dollar Quartet and Next to Normal, both of which won Tony Awards. Hanging on Hunt’s wall are the playbills from the musicals and snapshots of Hunt at the awards ceremony with actor Levi Kreis, who won Best Performance by a Featured Actor in Million Dollar Quartet, and famed playwright and lyricist Brian Yorkey for Next to Normal’s Best Original Score.
Sunshine on a Gray Day
Once while sitting in the dentist’s chair, Hunt got a kick out of the blue sky hanging over him instead of the usual drab ceiling tiles. In an area with so many gray days, Hunt decided to create his own sunshine with tiles akin to the ones at his dentist’s office.
Giving Minorities a Voice
When Making Tracks, a rock musical about an Asian family finding its way in America, debuted as a Village Original in 2000, it was heralded for its empowering and uplifting presence. Hunt was among those who collaborated on its development, and the Northwest Asian Weekly presented Making Tracks with an award for its impact on the community. The stunning award resides on Hunt’s desk.