New York- and Seattle-based director Brandon Ivie is the new associate artistic director at Village Theatre, where he acted as a teen. He’s at the helm of the Village Originals program.

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Brandon Ivie has been the associate artistic director at Village Theatre for a little more than a month, but his association with the venerable Issaquah theater goes back a lot longer.

Back in 2001, a 16-year-old Ivie had a small role in a mainstage production of “Peter Pan,” where he first encountered Village’s artistic director Steve Tomkins, who gushes now about Ivie’s passion for musical theater.

Back then? Well, it wasn’t quite an instant connection.

“I started out terrified of Steve,” Ivie said.

Now, it seems difficult to imagine that anyone could be scared of the almost impossibly genial Tomkins, but there’s a vivid memory that goes along with the feeling.

“He said I never said a word to him for the first two weeks, and then one day I turned to him and said, ‘Tie your shoe, kid.’ That was my big note,” Tomkins says with faux gruffness. “And that sort of stuck to him until today; his shoes are tied so he can go out and do all this great stuff.”

Tomkins jokes, but he clearly has big expectations for Ivie, who is the first associate artistic director Village has had since Brian Yorkey occupied the position more than a decade ago. Yorkey, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of the Broadway hit “Next to Normal,” is one of the premier musical success stories for Seattle and for Village.

Ivie, who was born in Bellevue, attended Newport High School and the University of Washington School of Drama, and has become an in-demand director around the country. He directed “Jasper in Deadland” Off-Broadway in 2014, and served as associate director for Broadway productions of “First Date” and “A Christmas Story.” Locally, he helmed the world premiere of Seattle Repertory Theatre’s “Lizard Boy,” a show he’ll also direct in San Diego later this year. As a teen, Ivie was mentored by Yorkey as a teen, and he knows what he’s getting himself into.

“I like pressure,” Ivie said. “I work very well under pressure. It doesn’t scare me; it actually excites me. It excites me to try and find the next ‘Next to Normal.’”

That’s not exactly Ivie’s job description, but it’s not far off. He’s the creative lead of the Village Originals program, which identifies and develops new musicals through readings and workshops. This weekend represents Ivie’s first act as associate artistic director, heading up Village’s 16th Festival of New Musicals, which presents readings of five new works. (The event, running through Aug. 14, is invitation-only for a specific level of donor.)

Village has also announced an expansion to the program: a three-show “Beta Series” that will offer full productions of developing works with expectations that the show will change and evolve throughout the run. Village won’t require the productions to be categorized as a “world premiere” and won’t open them up to critics, but will solicit audience feedback — to a point.

“We need to give the writer the ability to say, ‘Thank you, I’m not interested in that. That’s not what I’m focusing on at the moment.’ Because that’s how easy it is to get something off-track,” Ivie said. “If you try to please everyone, you’re going to end up pleasing no one.”

Village receives hundreds of submissions for inclusion in the Village Originals program every year, Tomkins said, and the winnowing process involves identifying a slate of well-told stories with diverse styles.

Serving as a way station for fledgling musicals has always been a part of Village’s identity, and the focus isn’t merely on developing options for Village’s mainstage, Tomkins said.

“Both Robb [Hunt, executive producer] and I [have] a major passion for new works and feeling that the important thing about having a musical theater is to develop new works for the canon,” he said.

Now with Ivie on board, the goal is to be involved in original work in an even more foundational manner, to not just develop existing musicals but “matchmake” ideas with creative teams and provide early backing for writers. Ivie splits his time between Seattle and New York, saying it’s an “invaluable” key to recognizing nascent talent.

“The word ‘incubator’ gets thrown around a lot in new work, and to me, it has to go beyond readings and workshops and productions,” Ivie said. “That is a version of the incubator, but I’m really, really interested in the very, very beginning steps of that, and how to support work that we think will be really worthwhile in a few years.”

Tomkins shares that philosophy.

“This is a place to start,” he said. “This is a place to grow stuff together. This is a place to develop ideas, as opposed to taking productions and working them for Broadway. We’re very much at a ground level.”

And if one of those up-and-coming shows is the next Broadway smash? It may not be the ultimate aim, but it wouldn’t be unwelcome.

“I have equal desires to work on stuff that is incredibly artistically fulfilling and also finding things that are going to have national exposure and recognition,” Ivie said. “When you really hit the sweet spot, you can find something that does both.”