“His added expertise will help us broaden and diversify our theater offerings, produce and present work that engages audiences with pressing topics of our time and best serve our mission,” Rutter said in a statement.
Finn, 46, who will report to Robert van Leer, the center’s senior vice president for artistic planning, said in an interview that part of what made the job so attractive was the commitments Rutter and van Leer made to commissioning more theater pieces and in the center producing more original projects. “I love this challenge,” he said. “It lets me produce far beyond what I do commercially on Broadway. A lot of what we’re talking about is producing and programming from a holistic point of view — both musicals and drama.”
A Boston native, Finn got his start as a producer shortly after graduating from Connecticut College in New London, Conn. He began an association with the Kennedy Center at the age of 24, when he produced a summer cabaret series in the Eisenhower Theater featuring the songbooks of classic Broadway composers. Starting in 2002 with a revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Tell Me on a Sunday” with Alice Ripley, he would go on to bring several of his own productions to the center. These included “On Golden Pond” starring Jones and Leslie Uggams and a revue, “The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber,” both in 2004, and a revival of Frank Gilroy’s “The Subject Was Roses” with Bill Pullman and Judith Ivey in 2006.
“On Golden Pond” would move to New York for a short run in 2005 and commence Finn’s Broadway career. He and his company, Jeffrey Finn Productions, have participated in a dozen Broadway ventures since, including some notable hits such as the Midler vehicle “I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers (2013); “The Elephant Man” (2014) starring Bradley Cooper; and in the summers of 2015 and 2016, “An Act of God” with, respectively, Parsons and Sean Hayes. There have been some respectable disappointments (last season’s “Hughie” with Forest Whitaker and 2014’s “The Realistic Joneses”), and one notorious flop, Kathie Lee Gifford’s 2012 musical “Scandalous” (which began at Signature Theatre years earlier as “Saving Aimee”).
Finn’s new job expands the role of the recently retired, longtime Kennedy Center executive Max Woodward, who held the title of Kennedy Center’s producer. As a center vice president, Finn will divide his time between Washington and New York, where his commercial production company is based. The center said that Finn would continue to run his own company independently, though Finn said the details of this arrangement have yet to be fleshed out.