Michael Rader is a director, artistic director and arts consultant based in New York City who made his mark internationally as an Artistic Director for Cirque du Soleil. Most Recently, he served as the Artistic Director and then Producing Artistic Director for the historic Cape Playhouse where he was celebrated for leading the organization through a significant renaissance and securing the theatre's position in the American Theatre landscape. His diverse career in the arts has afforded him positions such as a Resident Director for Cirque du Soleil, Broadway Liaison and Arts Education Consultant to the New York City Department of Education and Director of Entertainment for Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.
During Rader’s tenure with The Cape Playhouse, the organization flourished through a remarkable period of growth and advancement. During this five-year period, Rader was responsible for innovative advancements in programming, significant improvements to the quality of productions, implementing a new arts education wing, substantially expanding and overhauling all production and artistic departments, securing vital funding for infrastructure advancements and programming expansions, and modifying The Playhouse’s performance calendar to allow for the implementation of higher quality and Broadway-caliber productions. These advancements resulted in substantial increases in ticket sales, a vast resurgence of patrons and subscribers, successful fundraising that set the theatre on strong financial footing, being named one of the “50 Best Small Stage Theatres in America", consistently being awarded "Best Cape Cod Theatre" each season under his leadership, the elimination of all preexisting debt, the generation of significant profits each season after a prolonged period of financial loss, and netting nearly one-million dollars in cumulative assets. Under his leadership, Cape Playhouse highlights included Gypsy starring Julia Murney, Steel Magnolias starring Judy Kuhn, Little Shop of Horrors starring Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Noises Off with Heidi Gardner, The Importance of Being Earnest with Edward Hibbert and productions of Million Dollar Quartet, South Pacific and A Chorus Line that broke previous box office records. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr. Rader guided the transformation of programming to include outdoor concerts, New England centric lectures, a streaming production of A Christmas Carol, the creation of The Gertrude Lawrence Awards, and diverse digital content, including an array of online educational offerings. Rader was also responsible for forming and leading a national Covid Taskforce comprising senior leadership from arts organizations around the United States, designed to help theatres collaborate on successfully navigating the pandemic. The culmination of Rader's tenure at The Playhouse allowed for the launch of a master plan initiative and expansive capital campaign aimed at significant renovations and expansions for the 22-acre arts campus. The Cape Playhouse exists today as one of the great surviving icons of the American summer theater.
Select additional highlights as a director or associate include: A Christmas Story; The Musical (National Tour), Stalking The Bogeyman (NYTimes Critics Pick, Outer Critics Circle Nomination), Varekai (Cirque Du Soleil), The Testament of Mary, Deep Love (NYMF 2015), A Christmas Carol (National Tour), Mandela! with Norm Lewis, You are Not Alone with Betty Buckley and Lea DeLaria, and productions with Sacramento Music Circus, The ZACH Theatre, The York Theatre Company, The Actors Studio Repertory Theatre, The Human Race Theatre, The Dramatist Guild, The Huron Playhouse, The Forestburgh Playhouse, Joe's Pub and the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway benefit production of William Finn's Elegies: A Song Cycle. Michael's direction of the show, benefiting marriage equality, was acclaimed as "…profound and visionary".
Following the 2013 Broadway production, Rader was granted the exclusive rights to re-conceive Colm Tóibín's controversial hit play The Testament of Mary. Rader's reimagined version features five actresses sharing the title role – each woman representing a different cultural ideal of Mary.
Michael is passionate about and committed to finding ways of utilizing the arts as a tool to empower the lives of those less fortunate, especially children in need. It was during his initial time working with chronically ill children that Michael fully realized his passion for humanitarian work, especially when it involved working within the arts. In addition to his work as an actor and director he regularly teaches acting and audition technique classes in NYC and has served on the faculty of SongFest at the Colburn School in Los Angeles and The Summit School near Washington, DC. Rader is a graduate of Wright State University, the esteemed Actors Studio MFA Directing Program, an alumnus of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab and a proud member of SDC.