Exclusive Interview with Lynn University’s New Director of Performing Arts Operations

Direct from Carnegie Hall, Jim Badrak returns to South Florida after an illustrious theater career in New York City.

Jim Badrak finally found his little corner of the sky.

Badrak, Lynn University’s new Director of Performing Arts Operations, was brought on board this summer to handle all theatrical and concert facility operations and to also help enhance the on-campus experience for students, parents, faculty, staff and visitors.

It’s a big job, but Badrak is used to big jobs having worked at the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York City for 14 years. As if that wasn’t enough work, he’s also worked worldwide, serving in executive production roles with renowned arts centers and events. He also spent six years as a production supervisor for the Tony Awards.

In addition to all these accomplishments, Badrak also owns his own consulting firm Music Theater Production Group, and travels the country advising big-time clients like Walmart, the Kennedy Center and others. He even helped open the Dr. Phillips Center in Orlando several years ago. 

Badrak received his bachelor’s degree in Voice & Musical Theater at the University of Miami at the start of his career, so this new position in Boca Raton is like a homecoming for him.

“I’ve always wanted to get into the university setting,” said Badrak. “I’ve lectured at a lot of places, Yale School of Drama, University of Miami, University of Central Florida, lots of places. I had a lot of great mentors when I was starting out like Broadway production legends Alan Hall and Norman Rothstein. They taught me a lot and coming to Lynn is a great opportunity for me to pass it forward. I’m very excited about that.”

Badrak got his start early on by working as a production assistant on Broadway learning from all the greats. It was a natural fit for him as his family all worked in the theater world growing up. “I’m handy because I grew up in the theater. My brothers and sisters always did the high school shows. My mom was a seamstress, and she did all the costumes. My dad made the special props, special costumes, they were gorgeous. My mom and dad were beautiful craftsmen. I’ve been on shows with people who changed my diaper when I was a baby. We were all a big family. When my mom passed away, at her funeral, I met all those people again. It was a surreal moment.”

Theater has always been in Badrak’s blood. So, when one of the country’s largest headhunting firms called him earlier this year about the Lynn University job, he was intrigued and came down to Boca Raton to interview. 

“People thought I was crazy. You’re the Director of Production at Carnegie Hall, the most famous concert hall in the world,  what were you looking for? I don’t know,” said Badrak.

But after meeting with Lynn University officials, Badrak was blown away. “These people are so nice here. For me, that’s a million bucks. I met Kevin Ross (Lynn President). I met everyone on the team. That clinched it. It was a life choice for me after working 80 hours a week for years.”

Indeed, after his visit to the beautiful campus in Boca Raton, he knew there was something else out there.

“You know that tune from Pippin, Gotta Find My Corner of the Sky, you know what I mean? I just knew this was it,” said Badrak. 

For many years, Lynn University’s theater operations were managed by the legendary South Florida show business icon Jan McArt. She actually founded the theater program there many years ago. 

“You don’t replace somebody like Jan McArt,” said Badrak. “You just don’t. There’s not a replacement. She had so many connections. She knew so many people. She was so active with everything down here. She did this community great. She did South Florida great. I remember her name from when I went to school in Miami in the 1980s. No, I’m not here to replace her. I think if anything, I’m here to take care of her and the Wold’s (Performing Arts Center) legacy. This is their legacy, this building.”

“I’m really here to help move forward the arts programs here. That’s my job, to help this division, the performing arts, to expand on their programs, “ said Badrak. “If I can bring the knowledge that I’ve acquired over the years, I think that will be very helpful to all here. I’ve been very fortunate, I’ve had a blessed career and for me, this is my way to give that back. That’s how I grew up in this industry, having great mentors. If I can give back and be part of the process, that will be the ultimate success story here at Lynn.”

Jim Badrak proudly presents his trumpet collection of 13. Badrak has been a trumpet player since he was 8 years old, he still plays to this day.

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