Nobody in D.C.’s theater scene promotes shows quite like Michael Kyrioglou, the communications director at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and at the League of Washington Theatres. He’s tenacious as hell, blunt, and always on the clock, or so it seems. Do right by his shows, and he’s an absolute gentlemen. Publish “Woolly” as “Wooly”—as this idiot once did—and he’ll skin you alive. Regardless, he knows how to get what he wants.
D.C. theatre types will probably be shocked to learn (as some of us journalists did this morning in a mass email) that Kyrioglou will be leaving both Woolly Mammoth and the League in January.
“I just wanted to alert you that as a result of restructuring in marketing at Woolly Mammoth,” Kyrioglou wrote in an email. “I will only be with the theatre for a few more weeks through the opening of Mike Daisey’s show mid-January.”
Whether he’ll move to another theater job in the District is “Unknown at this point.” (Kyrioglou declined to comment further on the mass email he sent out this morning.)
“I was stunned to hear that Michael Kyriolglu will be leaving Woolly and thereby possibly also leaving the League of Washington Theatres,” writes Jennifer Nelson, the League’s former president. “I grew to rely on his clear thinking, pragmatism and steadfast commitment. Although I recognize that hard times for arts organizations means hard choices have to be made, I really hope he will find the means to remain part of the Washington cultural community. His are big shoes to fill.”
Kyrioglou is not “just a very professional publicist, but an acute observer of the theater scene and a well-informed consumer of both pop culture and the fine arts,” says Trey Graham, one of Washington City Paper‘s theater critics. “If he doesn’t land at another theater in D.C., the local scene will be that much poorer for it.”
Publicists come and go, so do marketing people. It’s a tough gig, coordinating theater coverage with an ever-dwindling and sometimes prickly pack of overworked arts journalists.
Sometimes, we just don’t give flacks—even great ones—the time of day.
But Kyrioglou, who’s been with Woolly Mammoth for 15 of the last 19 years, doesn’t give you a choice. During my first few months editing listings, I pissed him off so many times that I needed to create a separate folder for Kyrioglou titled “DANGER.” To this day, I keep a Kyrioglou sticky note taped to my monitor, a reminder of the kind of ball-crushing that’ll likely follow if I ignore one of his phone calls or emails, or forget to list a Woolly show.
Bob Mondello, another of City Paper‘s theater critics, praises a different side of Kyrioglou’s PR sensibilities. “What’s cool about Michael is that he’s smart in a PR field that only really requires being friendly (he’s that too)—capable not just of schmoozing and engaging with the public, but of talking about the art. There’s not a theater company in D.C. that wouldn’t be lucky to land him.”
Mondello adds that Kyrioglou’s been “invaluable” to the League of Washington Theaters, where “getting troupes with sometimes competing interests to work in tandem has to be like herding kittens.”