Stepping Down

Firehouse Theatre's artistic director resigns after COVID-19 show scandal

Firehouse Theatre's artistic director resigns after COVID show scandal

Dallas director Derek Whitener
Derek Whitener. Derek Whitener/Facebook

Artistic and education director Derek Whitener has resigned from The Firehouse Theatre in Farmers Branch, according to a notice that briefly appeared on the company's website.

The statement, which has since been removed and does not appear on social media, originally read:

"We are saddened to report that our Artistic and Education Director, Derek Whitener, has resigned. The Board of Directors accepted his resignation on November 5, 2020.

During his tenure with The Firehouse, Mr. Whitener elevated our theatre's artistic achievements. We are grateful for Mr. Whitener's work and dedication to The Firehouse during his time with us. He will be missed. Please join us wishing him the very best in his future endeavors.

We remain committed to our mission of presenting imaginative live performances and training through engaging artistic expression, and we look forward to doing so once we are able in the coming year. We are dreaming big for 2021!"

The announcement was dated two weeks after The Firehouse's production of Back to the '80s! was suddenly canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak, and the theater lost it Equity status from Actors' Equity Association.

However, the statement was not distributed to any media outlets — BroadwayWorld Dallas spotted the online posting at the end of December.

Whitener became artistic director in the latter half of 2016. In January, 2017, he was brutally assaulted outside of a Target store in Dallas during a run of the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The suspects were later identified and taken into custody.

CultureMap also covered Whitener's 2018 wedding to Victor Newman Brockwell, a local costume designer.

David Moore remains The Firehouse Theater's executive director, with Julie Bonneau as chairperson of the board of directors.