In Memoriam: Jerry Frederick Pilato, Actors Theatre, San Antonio

From the San Antonio Theatre Coalition (SATCO):


Another local theater legend his passed away.

Jerry Pilato served as artistic director for The Actors Theatre of San Antonio for 23 years, and was awarded Best Director by the Alamo Theatre Arts Council (ATAC) for his productions of Chicago, When Pigs Fly: the Musical, I Hate Hamlet, First Night, American Buffalo, If We Are Women, Taking Sides, to name a few.


Jerry Frederick Pilato

1947 - 2024


Jerry Frederick Pilato (via SATCO)It is with great sadness Jerry Fredrick Pilato exited from his adoring audience of family, friends, and friends that were like family on Sunday, February 25, 2024, in Birmingham, Alabama. He lived and traveled extensively from Europe to California, the same place where his season of life, love, encouragement, and kindness began on March 23, 1947--- in Birmingham.


Because his father Sam was a revered career Senior Master Air Force Sergeant, Jerry spent much of his youth near U.S. Air Force bases from Mississippi to Ramstein, Germany. He graduated from the Toul American High School in France.  After returning to the States, he studied theatre arts at San Antonio College and the University of The Incarnate Word, the largest Catholic university in Texas, near the Lackland Air Force base.


For 23 years Jerry served as Artistic Director for The Actors Theatre of San Antonio and was awarded Best Director by the Alamo Theatre Arts Council for his productions of Chicago, When Pigs Fly: the Musical, I Hate Hamlet, First Night, American Buffalo, If We Are Women, Taking Sides, to name a few.


After setting the San Antonio theatre scene on fire, he headed west to become an award-winning and popular artistic director for several theatres near or in San Diego such as The Broadway Theatre in Vista, The Compass Theatre in San Diego, Lamplighters Theater in La Mesa, and The Sunshine Brooks Theatre in Oceanside. Some of his more notable productions include Plaza Suite, Visiting Mr. Green, The Cemetery Club, The Brothers Lipschitz, The Foreigner, Love Sex and the IRS, Biloxi Blues, The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Dixie Swim Club, and more. Many avant-garde productions were directed by Jerry such as The Psychic, Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, MOMologues, Race, Last Train to Nibroc, Lone Star Laundry, Bourbon, Daddy’s Dyin’ Who’s Got The Will? and others.


Jerry was the perfect artistic director. He appreciated a wide range of theatrical possibilities and was masterful with all genres: comedy, musicals, and drama. His legendary process was very different from most directors. At the first rehearsal, each participant was given their blocking for the entire show. Most actors were taken aback and there was no meandering. The structure Jerry provided really worked as the actor could find the moments and the motivations within the framework. Adaptations were made if needed. He was generous in his positive support, often reaching out to other directors to include them in a given season.


In 2017, Jerry became the artistic director of Point Loma Playhouse, also in San Diego. There he directed popular shows such as Clever Little Lies, First Night, The Fantastics, Rose and Walsh, and more. This past season, Jerry not only received the Best Director Award for ACT's production of Rose and Walsh, the Nederlander “Broadway in Hollywood” Organization tapped Jerry as their West Coast manager of season subscriptions.


For many years Jerry Pilato’s byline became familiar to The Hollywood Times readers as their chief theatre reporter (@HollywoodTimes.Net). Jerry's talent, vision, thoughtfulness, and artistry came through whether he was on stage, in the audience, on a keyboard, or at a kitchen table. His love and acceptance of all were remarkable to those blessed to know him.


Over the past month, Jerry’s family of friends shared their affection for him via Facebook and emails. The presence of and attention from all “his” people: family and friends alike brought Jerry his greatest delight, comfort, and joy.

Jerry’s beloved father and mother Sam Andrew (and Angelina Mary Giovino Gossett) Pilato, Aunt Virginia “A.V.” (and Garland) Maddox, Uncles Jack (and Peggy) Pilato and Frederick David Trotter; maternal and paternal grandparents Charlie (and Roselee Messina) Giovino, Giuseppe "Joe" Pilato, Mary Giangrosso (and Frederick) Trotter preceded him in death.

Surviving Jerry are his siblings Sam (Karen), Jack, Andy Pilato, and Susan Darlene Pilato Massey; Aunt Norma Trotter (Bill) Camden; Cousins Valerie (Scott) Milano, Darlene Maddox (John) Gautier, Yvonne (Lee) Roderick, Mary Jean (John) Prather, and Niece Tobe Pilato, plus a huge host of adoring other cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends, especially theatre friends and audiences, too numerous to mention.

Jerry’s kindness continues today, as he chose to become an organ donor---furthering his cause of helping and connecting with others. Also a respected U.S. Vietnam veteran, Jerry’s interment of ashes memorial will occur with military honors on June 5th @ 2:45 p.m. at Montevallo National Cemetery, Birmingham, Alabama, 3133 Highway 119, Montevallo, AL 35115.