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Longtime JRT actress named new artistic director

A familiar face will now take on the role of artistic director at the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre.
Jennifer Schmidt, who has been involved with the JRT since 1981, officially accepted the leadership role at the theater during the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting Dec. 10.
“I could not be prouder to be asked to be in this position and represent Jonesborough through the JRT,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt, an actor and director, was one of the very early performers at the JRT in the early 1980s. During that time, she directed several productions, including Annie, On Golden Pond and Oliver.
Throughout her acting career, Schmidt has played several lead roles in plays such as Fiddler on the Roof, Godspell, My Fair Lady, Guys and Dolls, Kiss Me Kate, Hello Dolly, South Pacific, Of Mice and Men, and Footloose. In addition to acting at the JRT, Schmidt has performed at Showboat Dinner Theatre in Kingsport, Johnson City Community Theatre and Theatre Bristol.
Schmidt moved to Jonesborough a few years ago from Piney Flats in order to live closer to the JRT. In the past, she has served as the House Manager at the JRT and most recently has held the position of music director.
Schmidt currently serves as the director of elementary programming at First Christian Church in Johnson City and also teaches piano. She received a bachelor of the arts in piano performance from Milligan College with a minor in drama.
She specializes in directing musicals at the JRT, including the ever-popular USO Show, which she wrote for the JRT. Schmidt also directs the one-week children’s musical conservatories at the theater where youth come for a week in the summer and perform a full show by week’s end.
Schmidt was one of approximately 14 people to apply for the position following Christy Alaska Vance’s resignation from the role two months ago. Since learning of Vance’s scheduled departure later this month, the JRT Board of Directors screened applications and conducted interviews to find just the right person for the job.
“I have invested my time and energy into many JRT productions. I have met some of my best friends through my association with the JRT,” Schmidt wrote in her application for the role. “I have been involved in creative arts all my life. I see the artistic director’s position as a perfect opportunity for me to continue to do what I love to do.”
In recommending Schmidt, JRT board members said Schmidt is “extremely talented, great to work with, knows a tremendous number of people and is the most likely candidate to be a long-term artistic director.”
The JRT Board of Directors emphasized its desire for the new artistic director to reduce production costs and focus on fiscal oversight of those productions.
“We are 100 percent behind you and super enthused about you being our artistic director,” Mayor Kelly Wolfe said. “We are looking forward to some great things.”