Des McAnuff will step down as artistic director of the La Jolla Playhouse at the end of the 1994 season to pursue film and theater projects, it was announced Wednesday. According to a Disney spokeswoman, McAnuff--director of the Broadway hit musical "The Who's Tommy"--is currently negotiating with Touchstone Pictures for a "multi-picture deal."
McAnuff will continue as Director-in-Residence at the Playhouse, with a commitment to direct at least one project a year in addition to senior administration duties. "The fact that I can gain or acquire the freedom I need and still keep my creative home is beyond my wildest dreams," McAnuff said.
The success of "Tommy," which won him a Tony Award for best director and is currently on a national tour, has made the 41-year-old McAnuff one of the hottest directors in the nation. He will direct the London production of "Tommy" next year.
McAnuff will direct a new production of a classic Broadway musical in 1994 at the Playhouse, rumored to be the Broadway-bound revival of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."
McAnuff was named artistic director of the Playhouse in 1982. Since its revival as a professional company in 1983, the theater has earned international recognition with productions including Lee Blessing's 1987 Pulitzer Prize-nominated "A Walk in the Woods," which McAnuff directed in Russia and England as well as on Broadway; "Big River," whose seven Tony Awards included best musical and McAnuff's first directing Tony in 1985, and "Tommy," co-adapted by McAnuff from the Who's rock opera with composer Pete Townshend for its world premiere at the Playhouse in 1992.