Executive director of Boston Children’s Theatre is out

Toby Schine in 2015.
Toby Schine in 2015.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/File

Toby Schine, the executive director of the beleaguered Boston Children’s Theatre, is no longer in charge, according to a letter the organization’s board sent to parents on Friday afternoon.

“It’s with great sadness that the Board of Boston Children’s Theatre and Executive Director Toby Schine have decided to part ways,” the letter said.

The decades-old theater will also suspend its upcoming production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” the board wrote, explaining that “we simply do not have the staff or funding to support the quality of performance for which our company is known, and we owe our children nothing less.”

The children’s theater has found itself in an unpleasant spotlight in recent weeks. Its director, Burgess Clark, resigned at the end of October and was then accused by more than a dozen former students of inappropriate behavior.


“The only way that BCT can move forward as an organization, as a children’s theater, is to clean house,” said Stephanie Charlton, who taught at the theater between 2015 and 2018. She called Schine’s departure “the best thing for the organization.”

When Clark initially resigned, a board spokesperson told the Globe that Schine, who was not accused of misconduct, would stay in his role and had the board’s “full confidence.”

Schine shares a home in Beverly with Clark and his partner, Daniel Blake, who provided voice coaching to students at BCT. The three men bought the home together in 2006, according to deed records. Schine, Clark, and Blake did not respond to requests for comment.

Jim Solomon, the interim head of the theater’s board, said on Friday he couldn’t offer further details about Schine’s departure.

“It’s a personal matter with Toby,” he said in a text message. “And, it’s really all too nuanced to get into.” He added that Schine was never accused of any misconduct.


The theater also said in the letter that its finances are “even more precarious than usual.” The current state of those finances is unclear. The organization hasn’t submitted federal tax forms or other required documents to the state attorney general’s office since August 2017, when the group provided financial information from two years earlier, records show. Nonprofits are required to turn over the documents every year.

The most recent publicly available tax filing shows the theater was more than $200,000 in debt as of Sept. 30, 2016, despite collecting more than $1 million in revenue during the previous 12 months.

“We are embarking upon a rebuilding phase, and we must rebuild in every respect: personnel, financial, and programming,” Solomon said on Friday. “It is no secret that we have very significant financial needs.”

The theater group, which offers programs in Boston and Beverly, was established in 1951, making it “the oldest continually operating children’s theater in the country,” according to the board’s letter.

Even after Clark resigned, pressure on the institution’s leadership continued to build. This week, more than half the former students who initially accused Clark of misconduct in an anonymous e-mail to the organization’s board of directors intensified their efforts by resending the notice with their names included.

“There is a legitimate fear of repercussions when speaking out about this man,” the former students wrote about Clark. “We hope that attaching our names will help investigators to deepen their search into the wrongdoings of Burgess Clark.”


Though the e-mail is signed, it doesn’t make clear who specifically made the allegations. Three people claimed that Clark kissed or inappropriately touched them during private lessons or at his second home in Walden, Vt. Other students described acting classes with physical risk-taking exercises that sometimes culminated in students kissing or touching each other in sexually suggestive positions. The former students wrote that these events occurred when they were between 14 and 18 years old.

Those students subsequently received support from a different group of former students, who prepared a letter describing experiences they had under Clark’s direction from 2005 to 2013.

Their letter was signed by five former students and a version of it was distributed on Sunday at a meeting in Boston where families discussed the accusations against Clark with the theater’s board of directors.

The Essex district attorney’s office and Beverly police have said they are investigating. Four former students told the Globe earlier this fall that they approached the Suffolk district attorney’s office about Clark. No charges have been filed. The theater has also hired an outside law firm to investigate, and an outside specialist to review its internal policies, including hiring and supervision of students.

Since Clark resigned, the Globe reported that both he and Blake were reprimanded for their behavior with campers at a youth arts camp in Colorado in 2004.

In recent weeks, the board of the Children’s Theatre dwindled to just three members.

“Unfortunately, in light of recent events, our focus as an organization must be rebuilding,” the theater wrote. “We want to move forward as an organization with new leadership that can carry our mission into the future.”


Zoe Greenberg can be reached at zoe.greenberg@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @zoegberg. Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.