Kelundra Smith, Atlanta Magazine
Tom Key planned to exit on a note of fanfare this spring, ending his 25-year run as artistic director of Theatrical Outfit, one of Atlanta’s oldest professional theater companies.
The 69-year-old writer, director, and actor had timed his departure with the theater’s production of a new adaptation of Cotton Patch Gospel—a rollicking and reverent (but never preachy) musical that reimagines the story of Jesus Christ, in which the son of Mary and Joe Davidson is born in a trailer behind a motor lodge in rural Georgia and lynched 33 years later by the Ku Klux Klan. The production is nearly synonymous with Key, who cowrote the book, starred in its off-Broadway debut in 1981, and staged it a dozen times over the years.
Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has intervened, putting Key’s fitting farewell in peril as Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms prohibited large gatherings in order to stem the spread of the virus.
But Key’s vision for producing theater that enlightens and uplifts eventually will prevail under the direction of his replacement, Matt Torney, a native of Belfast, Ireland, and the former associate artistic director of Studio Theatre in Washington D.C. Torney’s selection by the board of directors received Key’s enthusiastic support.
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