Musical Theater Director and Actor

Darcy Evans

Growing up in a small town in British Columbia, Canada, Darcy Evans ’18 MFA A&A discovered his lifelong love of musical theater in high school, first appearing onstage in a production of Fiddler on the Roof. His partner, Andrew Scanlon, says even at a young age, Evans was interested in the production side of theater, putting on musical revues and murder mysteries “for which he raised funds, found performance venues, cast all the parts, built the sets, created advertisements and, of course, appeared onstage as well.”

This early ambition carried through his professional career, which took him to Broadway and on U.S. national tours, culminating in 10 seasons with the Stratford Festival, a world-renowned classical repertory company in Ontario, Canada. Eventually, to better position himself for a leadership role, he went for a master’s degree, choosing Penn State because of a previous mentorship from Susan Schulman, head of MFA directing. Professor emerita Mary Saunders-Barton recalls the two campus productions he directed, Light in the Piazza and Falsettoland, as “beautifully conceived and realized … reflect[ing] his unique affinity for musical theater storytelling.”

“Darcy was a passionate, relentless, joyful ball of energy,” Scanlon says. “He knew that the difference between good theater and extraordinary theater was a passionate attention to everything that appeared on stage.” That zeal and tirelessness helped him lead Alberta Theatre Projects—on the verge of collapse when he took over as executive and artistic director—to renewed success. In his first season, Evans directed The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which became the best-selling show in the theater’s 50-year history. Its success allowed the company to completely eliminate its deficit.

Evans died Nov. 25, 2020, just after his 50th birthday. In addition to Scanlon, he is survived by his parents, a sister and brother-in-law, and a niece and nephew. —Anna Andersen