Chatter with Lou Tyrrell: Artistic Director for Arts Garage


The Pineapple: Welcome to Delray Beach, Lou. Tell us a little about yourself. Lou Tyrrell: The Florida theatre community embraced me as a young actor in 1974, and then as a director when I founded Florida Stage, a professional resident theatre in Palm Beach County, in 1987. Until its close after 24 years, Florida Stage was an important nurturing ground for some of the best new plays being written today. The company produced more than 150 new works, many of which have enjoyed rich and rewarding production lives throughout the country. We also created theatre education outreach programs, which became a model throughout the country.   The Pineapple: How did you come to join the Arts Garage as Artistic Director of the Theatre? Tyrrell: After the close of Florida Stage, I was asked by Alyona Ushe, Executive Director of the Arts Garage, if I would have an interest in starting a new theatre program in a brand new intimate venue. With the “new normal” of our national economic downturn, I had been thinking a lot about what type of artistic and business model might allow a theatre to thrive. When I walked into Arts Garage, I found myself surrounded by that perfect model. It begins with intimacy and a vibrant sense of place. You just want to be there. Add the aspiration to excellence, world-class programming of diverse artistic disciplines – Jazz, Blues, Contemporary, or Classical music; stunning visual art, and the best new work in American theatre – it’s a recipe for great cultural fun. Of course, the best part is that all of this is in the center of the most exciting small city in the U.S., Delray Beach. An arts patron can access the parking garage above our space, walk down streets that are a people-watching feast for the eyes, dine at any of the dozens of fabulous area restaurants, then attend the evening’s Arts Garage performance. The Theatre at Arts Garage model embodies this entire experience, and offers an artistic adventure I couldn’t refuse.   The Pineapple: The Arts Garage recently celebrated its one year anniversary, and the Theatre component launched in January. How was the first season? Tyrrell: It’s been a wild and wonderful ride, like catching the perfect wave for a passionate surfer, except our passion is for the perfect expression of an artistic moment on the stage – be it music or theatre. Any first year of a new endeavor is full of unknowns, which make all of our triumphs so much more meaningful. The extraordinary community response we’ve experienced couldn’t be more gratifying, but our focus has to be on the future, and how we can continue to provide art that’s both meaningful and fun. (Alyona Ushe, Executive Director of Arts Garage chimes in) “Arts Garage was created as a multi-disciplinary art hub with an eye toward the theater from the start. Theater by its nature encompasses all art forms and disciplines. Lou’s experience and passion for contemporary theater made him a natural choice to expand our endeavors. We especially enjoy seeing cross pollination of audience members between different programs.”   The Pineapple: The Theatre at Arts Garage Summer performance is Cabaret Verboten which opened June 22 and runs through July 29. Tell us about this eclectic selection. Tyrrell: Cabaret as a genre is enjoyed by millions of people, world-wide. The Hollywood and Broadway hits Cabaret and Chicago both have their roots in the cabarets of another time, 1920’s and 30’s Germany. Cabaret Verboten is the real material that inspired those blockbusters. The music, songs and scenes explore Germany’s Weimar era art-scene, a hotbed of music, theatre, and art designed to use satire and irony to expose corruption and social injustice. It was a racy, sexy, subversive moment in time where there were no holds barred, and which still speaks to us today.   The Pineapple: Cabaret Verboten was written and directed by Jeremy Lawrence and features four actors and three musicians. What can you tell us about the characters and music of this performance that will energize the audience? Tyrrell: We’ve updated social and political references of our Cabaret Verboten, because that’s what the original cabaret did. Lyrics would change daily to reflect the news of the day. As a result, Cabaret Verboten is one part Lady Gaga, one part Saturday Night Live, one part True Blood, shake with laughter, and garnish with a twisted reality.   The Pineapple: How can our readers learn more about The Theatre at Arts Garage and purchase tickets to Cabaret Verboten? Tyrrell: Visit or call 561-450-6357. The Pineapple: Thanks Lou, and welcome to the Delray Beach arts community!