Michael Rader is a director and arts advocate based in New York City who made his mark internationally as an Artistic Director for Cirque du Soleil. Most Recently, he served as the Producing Artistic Director of the historic Cape Playhouse in Dennis, MA where he led the organization through a significant and vibrant renaissance, securing the theatre's future position in the American Theatre landscape. His diverse career in the arts has afforded him positions such as 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 Mr. Rader’s tenure with The Cape Playhouse, the organization experienced a remarkable period of growth and advancement. Notably, Mr. Rader implemented advancements in programming and significant improvements to the quality of productions. These developments resulted in substantial increases in ticket sales, a resurgence of subscribers, successful fundraising platform that set the theatre on strong financial footing, and the organization being named one of the “50 Best Small Stage Theatres in America” and consistently awarded a "Best of Cape Cod Award" every season under his leadership. Mr. Rader was also responsible for implementing new arts education programming, substantially expanding a mentoring system for production staff, and advancing The Playhouse’s performance calendar to allow for the implementation of higher quality productions. 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, and The Importance of Being Earnest with Edward Hibbert. 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 online educational offerings. Mr. 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.
Select additional highlights as a director or associate include: A Christmas Story (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 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 the esteemed Actors Studio MFA Directing Program, an alumnus of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab and a proud member of SDC.
Michael lives in New York City with his partner, Robbie Simpson, and Nellie the wonder dog.
Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill