Reggie D. White of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

Reggie D. White is undoubtedly a theatrical maverick. He’s acted on Broadway, directed several productions, is co-writing a play with Lauren Gunderson (America’s most-produced living playwright) and has more than decade of experience as an educator and arts advocate. He’s brought his expertise to the StL as the new associate artistic director of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

Have you always been interested in theater?
No, not at all. When I was a kid I was convinced I would be a sportscaster or a lawyer. In college, I took a musical theater class and was strong armed by my professor into auditioning for the school’s winter musical. I was cast as the lead, which didn’t usually happen for underclassmen. My grandparents love to tell the story that after opening night, they looked at me on stage and knew my law career was over.

You’ve acted, written and directed. What do you enjoy most?
Whatever I’m doing currently is my favorite. My first production for The Rep was Side by Side with Sondheim in January. During rehearsals, a play I wrote was also being workshopped in New York, and I’d go back and forth. I deeply love writing. I think there’s something beautiful about taking something from an idea to the stage. I also love directing so much, and once you’ve been bitten by the performance bug, it’s a lifelong thing. There’s nothing like standing on stage, taking a deep breath and feeling the audience breath with you.

Do you have a favorite production you’ve worked on?
Matthew López’s The Inheritance on Broadway. I started my career in musicals and was sure my Broadway debut would be a musical. I had gotten really close, but it never worked out. Working off Broadway and in regional theater, I learned I didn’t need Broadway to legitimize my career, and I spent the entire audition process for The Inheritance convinced I would not be cast. It’s unfortunate that the show’s run was cut short by COVID-19, but having your Broadway debut win the Tony Award for Best Play is not a bad experience. I highly recommend it.

First impressions of St. Louis?
In my first two months, I haven’t gotten to experience much, but there is so much I’m looking forward to. I want to catch a Cardinals game and check out the zoo, museums and, of course, the Arch. Heather Beale of The Black Rep was our choreographer for Side by Side with Sondheim, and I’m really excited to experience more of the arts community and how interconnected it is.

What do you hope to achieve with The Rep?
There are few people doing as revolutionary and creative things as Hana Sharif. I just want to help her achieve her vision. I’m really excited to take all of the things I’ve learned and really use them in a way so people will be able to see themselves in the work that we do. As a nonprofit arts organization, I think it’s really important to remember that our primary role is to be of service to the community. As a Black queer theater maker, I want people to know that theater can be for them. You don’t need to be super wealthy or be familiar with decades of source material.

Photo courtesy of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis