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Playhouse Square names replacement for CEO Gina Vernaci

Playhouse Square
Gina Vernaci (right), in conversation with WKSU Anchor/Arts Reporter Vivian Goodman in 2016, joined Playhouse Square in 1984. She steps down early next year and will be succeeded by Royal Albert Hall Chief Executive Craig Hassall.

Direct from London, Playhouse Square has named its new CEO. Craig Hassall has headed Royal Albert Hall since 2017. He’ll come to Cleveland early next year. The theater veteran has also held leadership roles with Opera Australia and the English National Ballet.

Hassall replaces Gina Vernaci, who announced her retirement last year. Vernaci started as an intern with Playhouse Square in 1984, when it contained just two theaters. Since then, it’s expanded to 11 performance spaces, including the Idea Center, home of Ideastream Public Media. Playhouse Square is the second largest performing arts center in the country, eclipsed only by the Broadway theater district in New York City.

Craig Hassall, Royal Albert Hall CEO. 21 April 2017
Paradise, Andy
Playhouse Square
Craig Hassall has been CEO of Royal Albert Hall since 2017, and previously held a number of arts leadership positions including with the 2000 and 2012 Olympic games in Sydney and London, respectively.

Earlier this spring, Vernaci told Ideastream Playhouse Square lost 8,000 Broadway season subscribers during the pandemic and would be seeking to build back up to about 48,000 subscribers.

Hassall appeared on this Paul Weller fan podcast last year, discussing the Jam frontman's many shows at Royal Albert Hall.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.