As managing director at San Jose Repertory Theatre, Nick Nichols oversees one of San Jose’s most popular theater destinations. Each year, the theater hosts a variety of performances from theatrical standouts like The Kite Runner and Spring Awakening to unique performances like the recent Flying Karamazov Brothers stop at the theater.

Nichols has worked in the theater industry for more than 30 years and has taught courses at Santa Clara University, San Jose State University and the University of California, Santa Cruz. He formerly ran his own theater design and consulting business and is currently the chair of Rota-Arts, a program dedicated to bringing music, arts appreciation and education to under-privileged elementary school students in San Jose.

Nick Nichols
Occupation: Managing Director of San Jose Rep

How long have you lived/worked in San Jose?

I started working here professionally in 1990 as a technical director at San Jose Civic Light Opera, later it became American Musical Theatre. I moved here in about the year 2000.

At what point did you decide to stay in San Jose and pursue your career?

It was pretty early on. I started working for San Jose Light Opera (American Musical Theatre) and very quickly fell in love with the city and the arts here as well as the people. Almost immediately, by the mid-90s, I knew this is where I wanted to stay.

What got you interested in theater work and why?
I’ve really been in theater all my life. It started as early as grammar school, being in plays and things of that nature. When I went to college, I actually was thinking of possibly going in to law school, but since I did theater all through high school I continued it as an undergrad in college. I was also helping finance that college by working construction during the summer and that lead to me getting involved in scenic construction and technical design.

I got out of Santa Clara with an undergraduate degree in theater and then went on to get a graduate degree in technical production and design from Temple University in Philadelphia. After working in the area of theater for a couple years, I went back and did some post graduate work in theater administration at Golden Gate.

What is the most rewarding about being the managing dirrector of the Rep?

I get to be right there through the whole creative process. I absolutely am in awe still today of the actors, designers, and directors and the work that they do. Every play that we do is giving birth to a whole new thing. Being able to play a support role in the creative process is my greatest reward.

What is the most challenging part of being managing director?

Everything from being involved with marketing, financing and working with all the various unions. There are many aspects you have to juggle at all times.

What do you like most about San Jose?

While it has many advantages, and things that one likes in a large city and still to a lot of respect, it has a smaller community feel. People know one another here and they work together. I find that very refreshing.

If you could change one thing about San Jose, what would it be?

I would like to have a greater awareness by a larger percent of the population in arts. I would like to see more people going to the ballet, the symphony, the Rep and the museums so they can see all of the arts and culture flourish to the extent many of the businesses do here.

What San Jose event do you most look forward to every year?

Other than the season for San Jose Rep, I’m a real jazz lover. I love the jazz festival. I greatly enjoy Cinequest. I’m also a member of the San Jose Museum of Art; I love the various exhibits they put on throughout the year. 

What are some upcoming plays/shows at the Rep that you personally are looking forward to and why?
The next one is going to be phenomenal, it’s a play called Disconnect and it’s by a very new exciting Indian play write. In fact, we’re flying her out from India to be with us for opening night. We are really looking forward to that play. It’s a very biting, satirical look at American society as seen through the eyes of people manning a call center in India.

Is there any one moment that stands out as a highlight during your time at the theater?

There are so many, but certainty one of the things that I am very proud of is that several years back we produced the world professional premier of the play, The Kite Runner. That’s certainly something that I am very proud of. Also, last season’s production of Spring Awaking; I think that really showed the great work that we do here.

Where can we find you in San Jose when you’re not working at the theater?

I love to go the Camera 12 Cinemas and see movies there. Anything that is happening outside, if we’re having any kind of festival, I love to do that. I also love to go to San Pedro Square Market.

Who is the most interesting person you know in San Jose?

Wow, there is a long line of interesting people in San Jose. One of the people at the top of my list would be Irene Dalis, the founder of Opera San Jose, she is a true treasure to this community that we have.

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