Director of Production
For three decades prior to his involvement with TDO, John J. Toia served on the stage management teams of dozens of notable productions including King John for the New York Shakespeare Festival; Tosca for Opera Carolina; The Night of the Iguana for Tennessee Williams Theatre; Carnal Knowledge for Pasadena Playhouse; All My Sons for the Philadelphia Drama Guild; Moonlight and Valentino for Stages Repertory Theatre in Houston; Oklahoma! for North Carolina Theatre and Girl of the Golden West for Asolo State Theatre in Sarasota, Florida.
Mr. Toia’s extensive theatrical management experience ranges from managing a four-nation tour for a 110-member orchestra to serving as Production Supervisor for two years on a major, new production of West Side Story.
He served as Director of Stage Management (1989-2009) and Assistant Dean to the School of Design and Production (1994-2009) at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. There, he collaborated on the creation of a new graduate program in Performing Arts Management, conducted feasibility studies and raised the $100,000 necessary to launch the program. He also spent three years as Production Manager of Piedmont Opera Theatre where Mr. Toia supervised production for a host of operas including La traviata, La bohème, Un ballo in maschera, Tosca, Rigoletto and Otello, the work that launched Dallas Opera performances in the Winspear.
Mr. Toia did his undergraduate studies in Theater and Directing at Eastern Michigan University and Wayne State University, where he also pursued graduate studies in Theatrical Management and was ultimately honored with a Hilberry Graduate Fellowship.
Director of Development
A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she earned a degree in business administration, Gae Whitener’s wide-ranging experience has given her a strong business/marketing background in the healthcare, construction, and communications industries (her particular specialty), as well as in the arts. However, from her beginnings as Company Manager for the Pennsylvania Dance Theatre to her later work as a Development Associate for TACA, her interest in the performing arts has remained consistent throughout her career, leading to a position researching and writing grant applications and managing other responsibilities for the Dallas Opera in 2004. The recognition of Ms. Whitener’s leadership and organizational skills resulted in a promotion to Associate Director of Development, Foundations and Operations (which expanded her responsibilities to include a project management role for all development department initiatives) and she assumed the mantle of Interim Director of Development, following the retirement of former Director Cynthia Young in June of 2011.