Why He’s Interesting: After visiting Playhouse Square once, Craig Hassall didn’t think twice about leaving London and making the move across the pond to Cleveland.
No Joke: Hassall, who’s been the Royal Albert Hall’s chief executive since 2017, didn’t apply for the Playhouse Square position. He readily admits he was dumbfounded when a recruiter approached him. “I told the search firm I’d never heard of Playhouse Square, so why would I go from the Royal Albert Hall to a series of venues in the Midwest? I wasn’t even sure where Ohio was.”
Game Changers: It didn’t take long for Hassall to be charmed by the majestic and historic spaces. “They’re extraordinary. To have this collection of exquisite theaters outside of Broadway is amazing."
Love at First Sight: A devotee of historic preservation, Hassall is captivated by the fact that the Cleveland theaters were destined to be razed before being spared in the early ’70s. “Venues like these are so precious all around the world but, sadly, there was an era back in the ’70s and ’80s when they weren’t appreciated and recognized. Luckily that has changed.”
Interesting fact: Hassall grew up on a wheat and sheep farm in the southeastern Australia state of New South Wales. “Because I was a little kid from the middle of the countryside who eventually felt that I could go to an opera, ballet or theater show anywhere in the world, I want Playhouse Square to be accessible to every person who comes here or might want to come here.”