Swift Creek Mill Theatre’s Artistic Director, Tom Width, came to the Mill as a resident actor in 1976, playing leading roles in such shows as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”, “Kiss Me, Kate”, “The Robber Bridegroom”, “Damn Yankees”, and “Shenandoah”, as well as supervising the theatre’s press releases.
In 1981, Tom directed and designed sets for the Mill’s critically-acclaimed production of “On The Twentieth Century”, the first in a long list of directorial and design assignments. Over the next three decades, he directed and designed scores of shows, including some of Swift Creek’s most successful and admired productions: “Forever Plaid”, “Little Shop of Horrors”, “Me and My Girl”, “Big River”, “Deathtrap”, “The Secret Garden”, “Honky-Tonk Angels”, “Into The Woods”, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, and many, many more.
With a passion for children’s theatre (and a background in magic, special effects, and children’s entertainment), Tom has directed and/or written dozens of plays and musicals for the Mill’s Youth Theatre seasons. In collaboration with composer/writer Paul Deiss, more than 40 original productions have had their world premieres at Swift Creek Mill Theatre – from new versions of classic tales like “Jack and the Beanstalk” and “Hansel and Gretel”, to completely original musicals like “Merlin’s Last Miracle”, and “Magicadabra SOL”, a musical that uses magic and music to teach SOL lessons to Virginia students.
Tom has also acted, directed and/or designed scenery for many other theatres, including Mill Mountain Theatre in Roanoke, Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Columbia, Maryland, and the New London Barn Playhouse in New Hampshire. Locally, he has directed “Once Upon A Mattress”, “The Mystery Of Edwin Drood”, “Barnum”, “Count Dracula”, and “The Robber Bridegroom” at Dogwood Dell (Richmond Department of Recreation and Parks); and, for fourteen years, he directed the summer musical for SPARC (School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community). He also teaches classes in special effects and audition technique for Henrico Department of Recreation and Parks, the Mill’s summer theatre camps, and for SPARC.
The development of new scripts for production in the Mill’s mainstage seasons is another important aspect of Tom’s work, and the Mill has staged world-premiere productions of Ted Swindley’s “Honky-Tonk Angels II”; “I Just Gotta Sing”, a gospel musical; and “Two Bits: The Barbershop Musical”, by Tom Width and Paul Deiss – all highly-acclaimed by critics and theatergoers.
Tom has won the Phoebe Award from the Richmond Times-Dispatch in the categories of actor, director, and set designer. He was awarded the Theresa Pollack Prize for excellence in the Arts by Richmond Magazine in 2003. He received the Artsie Award as Best Director from the Richmond Theatre Critics’ Circle for Swift Creek’s production of “Urinetown”, and was recently honored by the same organization for his work in special effects, receiving a special Artsie Award for Lifetime Achievement in Stage Magic.
Maintaining the Mill’s high artistic standards while exploring all the possibilities available to a thriving theatrical community is Tom’s goal and passion.