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Inside the Design Studio | Hillary Hart

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love theatre and anyone who knows me knows how much I love TUTS (Theatre Under the Stars). It is Houston's home for musical theatre after all. I've loved serving on the Advisory Board and our company has been proud to support the education and programing at TUTS over the years.
Today's guest is one of the main reasons that TUTS has been so successful recently (you'll meet the other reason next week) and I couldn't be more thrilled to have Hillary Hart Inside the Design Studio today. Hillary is one of those rare minds that so fully understands the complexity of both the arts and business. I often walk away from board meeting feeling like I've learned something tangible that I can apply to my own business because of her insight and knowledge. She has a true gift for leadership and I've been thrilled to see how she has shepherded TUTS into another era. 
Hillary Hart and DAN KNECHTGES at the TUTS Gala
TUTS's Executive Director Hillary Hart and Artistic Director Dan Knechtges

Hillary joined Theatre Under the Stars in January 2017 as the Executive Director and her primary responsibility is leadership of the organization from a financial and operations perspective. She oversees finance, marketing, development/fundraising, human resources, operations, intellectual property and union contract negotiations. She is an Executive Committee member of the Board of NAMT (National Alliance for Musical Theatre) and as a member of the Board of Theatre District Houston and Chair of their Marketing Committee. Hillary promotes the interests of TUTS and the Theatre District to the larger business community in Houston. 

Hilary Hart Theatre Under the Stars Houston Texas David Peck

Before TUTS, Hillary was the General Manager at the Guthrie Theater, a $28M non-profit regional theater in Minneapolis.  In addition to her primary responsibilities, she expanded her role as an ambassador by representing the Guthrie in the business community and to the City of Minneapolis through membership on the Executive Committee of the East Downtown Council of Minneapolis Board and was a member of the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association Livability Committee.  Talk about taking the ball and running with it! 

Prior to her work at the Guthrie, she served as Managing Director of Flat Rock Playhouse where she was able to stabilize the financial and operational areas of the organization and increase earned and contributed revenue. Her work also included a significant restructuring and reengagement of the Board of Directors, a comprehensive look at community engagement, marketing and rebranding efforts. 

Hilary Hart Theatre Under the Stars Houston Texas David Peck

As you can tell, Hillary is often hired during times of significant transition, her experience ranges from on stage to off stage; helping create and implement new best practices focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion across key initiatives ranging from access sensitivities to the lens through which the story telling is viewed.

Hillary has also toured with Alvin Ailey – Ailey II, and acted as resident stage manager and production manager for a variety of theatres in and around the New York area.  In between, Hillary has taught and lectured at a variety of colleges, participating in union collective bargaining negotiations, active engagement with the League of Resident Theatres (LORT), Independent Presenters Network, (IPN), National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT), and serving as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts.

Hilary Hart Theatre Under the Stars Houston Texas David Peck   

She has been married to her husband, Jarrett Hook, for 18 years and together they are raising a dynamic twelve year-old son. Her daily work involves a great deal of budgeting, cash flow analysis, and contract negotiation, but the real joy she derives is watching the transformative power of theatre change the lives of the people in communities that she serves. 

Jarrett Hook and Hillary Hart

 Hilary Hart Theatre Under the Stars Houston Texas David Peck


What is your most used emoji?

Tie between Heart and Silly face


What was the worst haircut you ever had?

Perm in the 7th grade



Who was your childhood actor/actress crush?

I didn’t really have one…


What’s the most embarrassing fashion trend you used to rock?

Poof 80s bangs



You have your own late-night talk show, whom do you invite as your first guest?

Judi Dench




If a movie was made of your life, what genre would it be, who would play you?

Farce (hah!); Catherine O’Hara



You have to sing karaoke, what song do you pick?

I have never sung Karaoke…. Something from Adele?..I mean if I am going to embarrass myself….



What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Speak with honesty, think with sincerity, and act with integrity.




When you die, what do you want to be remembered for?

Following the best advice I have ever been given.


What would the title of your autobiography be?  

Totally Inappropriate.




What was the worst job you ever had?

Telemarketing to the west coast at 6AM on a Saturday – terrible way to wake people up.




Which band/artist-dead or alive would play at your funeral?

My husband – he plays guitar.


What’s your favorite place of all the places you’ve travelled that feels like home and is not where you currently live?

Nowhere feels exactly like home, but I really enjoyed Portugal.

Portugal Hillary Hart David Peck Houston Texas TUTS 

What’s one thing we don’t know about you?

I knit.



If you could hang out with any fictional character, who would you choose and why?

I tend to read historic biographies … would like to have met Eleanor of Aquitaine or Winston Churchill.



If you could choose any person from history to be your imaginary friend, who would it be and why?

Audrey Hepburn; she was the embodiment of grace, humility, and kindness…a wonderful role model for anyone.



What is your favorite curse word?

F**k – it is so versatile.


What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Running a B&B/Horse Farm in the South of France


What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Being able to tune out the rest of the world and spend time relaxing with my family.



What is your greatest fear?

My family is everything to me; ensuring there is a reasonably safe, stable environment for us to be together is paramount.

David Peck Houston Logo 




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