Reflecting upon his high school years in Toms River, Geoff fondly recalls the influence and educational teaching excellence of Mr. Heckel, Mr. Cosell, Mr. Milkovitz, Miss Yamaji, Mr. Callan, and Miss Servodio. He also states most emphatically the great influence his father had upon him as one of his teachers. It was at Toms River High School South that his love for theater brought him new friends like Carol Campobasso, Mark D'Alessio, Lonnie Cohen and Mary Ellen Aiken. When he left Toms River High School South for Princeton, he carried with him no conception of "You can't do that" or "Why don't you just play it safe."
During his years at Princeton, Geoff continued to expand his love for and involvement in the dramatic arts. He became associated with the Princeton Summer Theater, which was originally founded in the 1930's by then Princeton undergraduates Jimmy Stewart and Josh Logan. This association gave him his first experience in managing an entertainment business when he headed the student organization as General Manager from 1977-1978.
Upon his graduation from Princeton with an A.B. in English with a concentration in Theatre in 1978, Geoff moved to New York City to follow his theater and managing aspirations. His involvement and success in a diversity of production and performance fields since that time are extraordinary. In 1978, he began as a Royalty Accountant at St. Martin's Press. In 1981, he moved to NBC Radio Networks as Manager of New Business Development and later Director of Special Programming. During his association with NBC Radio he helped launch the Sally Jesse Raphael and Bruce Williams radio shows, as well as helping produce the first satellite-delivered live radio concerts with artists such as Fleetwood Mac, Moody Blues, and Hall and Oates.
By the mid 1980's, Geoff's career was moving into "high gear" and he began an affiliation with Radio Today Entertainment, Inc, from 1984-1998 as the Co-Founder and President. Radio Today grew to be the largest independent radio production and syndication company in the country. While there, he was responsible for producing over 30 shows which aired on over 3,000 radio stations in the U. S., England, Australia, Japan, France and China. Radio Today won numerous awards including the International Radio Festival of New York Gold Award for Best Music show (twice). In 1998, he sold Radio Today to Disney/ABC and became Executive Vice President, Programming for ABC Radio Networks. While at ABC he was responsible for the programming of all ABC Radio Network Music and Talk shows, and was responsible for overseeing the creation of ABC Radio's websites.
Since 2002, Geoff has been the Executive Director of The New Group Theatre Company and has produced 10 plays in just three years. In addition to its recent critical and financial successes, over the past three seasons, The New Group has won 3 Tony Awards, 2 Obie Awards, and 5 Lucille Lortel Awards while garnering numerous Drama Desk and Drama Critics Circle nominations.
The Radio and Theatre production history of our honoree is, to say the least, awe inspiring. For radio he has produced Flashback, Walter Cronkite's Twentieth Century, and Flashback Pop Quiz which received the Grand Prize for Best in Show from the International Radio Festival of New York. He produced Lincoln's Music in America, Rich Dees' Weekly Top 40, and The Dr. Laura Program which was the syndicated top-ranked relationship and family values program on over 400 radio stations in three countries. Geoff was the Executive Producer for Moneytalk with Bob Brinkley, Bob Kingsley's American Country Countdown, The Matt Drudge Show, and Dick Bartley's American Gold.
Geoff's theatre production history as Executive Director of The New Group includes: Smelling a Rat (2002), Comedians with Jim Dale and Raul Esparza (2003), and Avenue Q (2003)--the little musical that became the surprise winner of the 2004 Tony Triple Crown for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. Other productions include Women of Lockerbie featuring Judith lvey (2003), Aunt Dan and Lemon featuring Kristen Johnston and Lily Taylor (2004), Roar with Annabella Sciorra (2004), Sin (A Cardinal Deposed) with John Cullum (2004), and Hurlyburly with Ethan Hawke, Parker Posey and Wallace Shawn (2005).
Geoff continues to live in New York City, the theater capital of the world. He is happily married and the father of two children: Jaremy, now 19, a sophomore at Oberlin College majoring in Economics and Gabrielle, age 6, attending kindergarten at the Brearley School in New York City. Geoff founded the New York Gothams Youth Baseball Organization in 2000. He is currently the Vice President of this youth organization which provides an opportunity for inner-city teenagers to compete regionally and nationally with the top teams in the nation. Geoff plays cello and piano; he especially enjoys learning new music. He and his wife enjoy attending the Metropolitan Opera.
Perhaps Geoff's production and artistic philosophy can be best described in his own words when discussing the mission of The New Group. "It is an artist-driven company with a commitment to developing and producing powerful, contemporary theater. While constantly evolving, we maintain an ensemble approach to all our work, and an articulated style of emotional immediacy in our acting and productions. In this way, we seek theater that is adventurous, stimulating, and most importantly now--a true forum for the present culture."
The Toms River Schools Hall of Fame is most pleased and proud to induct Geoffrey Rich into the Hall of Fame for his extraordinary accomplishments in the fields of radio and theater production, and for helping to advance a greater understanding of mankind through these mediums.
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