Michael Mendelson Is the New Managing Artistic Director of the Actors Conservatory

The esteemed actor and director will take the reins of the company in July.

The Actors Conservatory has announced that acclaimed Portland actor and director Michael Mendelson will be the company’s new managing artistic director, following the retirement of its beloved founder, Beth Harper.

“I am thrilled that Michael Mendelson will be the next managing artistic director of TAC,” Harper stated in a press release. “I have enjoyed working with him as a faculty member, and I am absolutely convinced that he is the ideal person to carry TAC into the future.”

Mendelson’s tenure will officially begin July 1. According to the press release, Harper will serve for two years “as artistic director emeritus during that period to assist Michael and TAC acclimate to the changeover.”

Filling Harper’s shoes won’t be easy, given that she ran the company for 37 years. But as the artistic director of the Portland Shakespeare Project (and a TAC instructor who has schooled students in the Bard and Meisner), he is uniquely qualified.

“We conducted a nationwide search for a new managing artistic director, reviewed résumés of many exceptionally qualified candidates, and interviewed several of them before deciding that Michael is the right person to lead TAC going forward,” said Milt Dennison, chairman of the board of directors. “He brings talent, vision and the experience that will help him build on what Beth has created.”

With his iconic, imposing beard and knack for tricky accents, Mendelson has long been one of the most recognizable and mesmerizing actors on Portland stages. He has been especially compelling in plays at Artists Repertory Theatre, like the five-hour Antarctic epic Magellanica.

In the press release, Mendelson expressed excitement about his new role at TAC.

“TAC plays a very important role in the fabric of the Portland theater community by training students from all over the country in a rigorous two-year, accredited conservatory program that feeds into our community and beyond,” Mendelson said. “TAC fulfills the desire for serious minded students who wish to become professional, crafted actors.”

Related: The “Magellanica” Playwright Discusses Her Many Passions, From “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” to “Star Trek”