Artistic Director | Signature Theatre

Artistic Director

Photo of Eric Schaeffer by Christopher Mueller.

Eric Schaeffer is the Co-founder and Artistic Director of Arlington’s Signature Theatre. Under his leadership, the Theatre was honored with the 2009 Tony Award® for Outstanding Regional Theater in America, as well as 90 Helen Hayes Awards with an additional 340 nominations for theater excellence in Washington, DC.

At Signature, Schaeffer directed productions including: Elmer Gantry; Cloak and Dagger; Beaches; Crossing; Miss Saigon; Spin; Hello, Dolly! (Ford’s Theatre co-production); The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas; Brother Russia; Hairspray; Sunset Boulevard; Chess; Show Boat; First You Dream: The Music of Kander & Ebb; The Hollow; Les Misérables; ACE; Kiss of the Spider Woman; Glory Days; The Witches of Eastwick; Saving Aimee; Into the Woods; My Fair Lady; Nevermore; The Highest Yellow; One Red Flower; Allegro; Twentieth Century; 110 in the Shade; Hedwig and the Angry Inch; The Gospel According to Fishman; Grand Hotel; The Rhythm Club; Over & Over; The Fix; Working; The Rink; Cabaret; First Lady Suite; Wings; Poor Superman; Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love; and the Sondheim musicals Merrily We Roll Along, Sunday in the Park with George (Arena Stage co-production), Passion, Into the Woods, Company, Assassins, Sweeney Todd, Follies and Pacific Overtures, among others.

On Broadway, Schaeffer directed the critically acclaimed Follies as well as the Tony Award®-winning Million Dollar Quartet, Glory Days and Putting It Together. His national tours include Million Dollar Quartet and big. Off-Broadway, he has directed Sweet Adeline (City Center Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert) and Under the Bridge. His West End credits include Million Dollar Quartet and The Witches of Eastwick.

Eric’s regional credits include Ford’s Theatre: Meet John Doe; Goodman: Million Dollar Quartet; Apollo Theatre: Million Dollar Quartet; Mark Taper Forum: Putting It Together (w/ Carol Burnett); Chicago: Elmer Gantry; Los Angeles: Disney’s Snow White. For the Kennedy Center, Schaeffer served as the Artistic Director of the acclaimed Sondheim Celebration in 2002 as well as directing its productions of Sunday in the Park with George and Passion. At the Kennedy Center, he also directed Follies starring Bernadette Peters, Mame starring Christine Baranski, First You Dream: The Music of Kander & Ebb and the Broadway bound Gigi starring Vanessa Hudgens.

In 2006, Schaeffer created Signature’s musical theater commissioning program, the American Musical Voices Project (AMVP), in partnership with the New York-based Ted & Mary Jo Shen Charitable Gift Fund, to commission and produce new musicals for the American theater canon. Since that time, AMVP has grown to become the largest musical theater commissioning program in the country, providing writers and composers a creative, fertile ground to develop original musicals. Since the program was launched, Signature has commissioned 18 new musicals from composers such as Michael John LaChiusa, Ricky Ian Gordon, Joseph Thalken, Adam Guettel, Jeanine Tesori, Josh Schmidt and Joshua Rosenblum, among others.

Schaeffer earned his BFA from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, where he received an Honorary Doctorate in 2012. He also received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Shenandoah University in 2014.