Bartlett Sher

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Bartlett Sher
Born (1959-03-27) March 27, 1959 (age 56)
San Francisco, California, United States
Occupation Theatre director
Spouse(s) Kristin Flanders (2 children)

Bartlett Sher (born March 27, 1959), also "Bart", is an American theatre director. He received both the 2008 Tony Award and the Drama Desk Award for his direction of the Broadway revival of South Pacific. The New York Times has described him as "one of the most original and exciting directors, not only in the American theater but also in the international world of opera".[1] Sher has been nominated for Tony awards in 2005, 2006, 2008 (winning,) 2009, and 2013.

Early life[edit]

Sher was born in San Francisco, California, USA, the son of Aird (Stewart) and Joseph Sher.[2] He had six siblings, including a twin brother. He was raised Catholic (during his teenage years, he found out that his Lithuanian-born father was Jewish).[3][4] Sher attended St. Ignatius College Preparatory and later the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. He returned to St. Ignatius to teach English and run the theatre program.[3] During the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games he was influenced by the arts programs associated with the Games, particularly by the work of Polish director Tadeusz Kantor.


Sher served as associate artistic director at Hartford Stage (Hartford, Connecticut) and company director at the Guthrie Theater (Minneapolis, Minnesota) where he worked with Garland Wright,[5] who was a mentor as was Robert Woodruff. Sher has directed, taught and led workshops across the country and internationally. He was Artistic Director at Intiman Theatre in Seattle and in 2008 was named Resident Director at Lincoln Center Theater in New York City.[6]

Intiman Playhouse, Seattle[edit]

Sher served as Artistic Director at Intiman Playhouse in Seattle from 2000-2010. During 2010 Sher handed over this job to his successor, Kate Whoriskey. (The Intiman cancelled its 2011 season due to financial problems).[7][8] His productions at Intiman have included:

The Dying Gaul (a funny and tragic story of a grieving Hollywood scriptwriter)[10]
The Singing Forest (world premiere) — (neurotics and therapists sparring)[11]
Prayer for My Enemy (dysfunctional family, friendship, war in Iraq)[12]
The Light in the Piazza (musical), book by Craig Lucas (chance meeting in Florence leads to romance)[13]

Other theatre and opera[edit]

  • Mourning Becomes Electra (Levy) for Seattle Opera;[14][15]
  • At the Theatre for a New Audience ("TFANA", New York) he directed productions of:[16]
2000 — Waste by Harley Granville Barker (American premiere and 2000 OBIE for Best Play),
2002 — Cymbeline by Shakespeare
2003 — Dom Juan by Molière
2004 — Pericles, Prince of Tyre by Shakespeare

Recognition and awards[edit]

Sher has received national and international recognition for his work as a director, including the following productions:

  • Sher was honored with the 2002 Joe A. Callaway Award from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation for his production of Cymbeline in New York. That play marked his Intiman directing debut and, produced by Theatre for a New Audience ("TFANA") in New York, it went on to become the first American Shakespeare production to be seen at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • The Light in the Piazza by Lucas and Adam Guettel with book by Craig Lucas at Chicago's Goodman Theatre, for which he has received a Joseph Jefferson Awards nomination;
  • In 2005 he was nominated for the Best Director Tony Award for his work on the Broadway production of The Light in the Piazza.
  • In 2006 he was nominated for Best Director Tony award for the revival of Clifford Odets' Awake and Sing.
  • In 2008, he won a Tony as Best Director of a Musical for South Pacific, which had not been seen on Broadway for more than 45 years.
  • In 2009 Sher's production of August Wilson's "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" opened April 16, 2009 at Broadway's Belasco Theatre to rave reviews. President and Michelle Obama chose this show for one of their "date nights" in the Summer of 2009.[23] Sher received a 2009 Best Director Tony nomination for this production, one of six nominations this show received that year (see 63rd Tony Awards). Sher's work as director of this play was controversial as this was the first Broadway production of this play to ever have had a white director (something August Wilson opposed during his lifetime).[24]
  • In 2012, Clifford Odets' Golden Boy was presented on Broadway by Lincoln Center Theater. It received eight Tony award nominations, including Sher's fifth for directing.

Personal life[edit]

Sher recently lived in New York with his wife Kristin Flanders (a Yale trained actress) and two daughters.[1] His father, an insurance broker whom he described to The New York Times as a "brilliant businessman, very charismatic", was also a serious philanderer who had a second family with another woman.[1] Sher's childhood was marked by a drawn-out divorce.

His mother soon met a Chinese-American man, Doug Chang, who moved in, helped rear the family and brought them much needed stability. Sher's experiences with interracial blended families informed his directing of South Pacific.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Alex Witchel, The Stages of Bart Sher, New York Times, February 24, 2008.
  2. ^ Korbelik, Jeff."The Bond of Brothers:As Close as You Would Expect Twins to Be" (Lincoln), February 20, 2010
  3. ^ a b Drukman, Steven."The Essential Bartlett Sher", September 2005, accessed August 23, 2011
  4. ^
  5. ^ Gussow, Mel."Garland Wright obituary"New York Times (requires registration), July 26, 1998.
  6. ^ Berson, Misha.Bartlett Sher, Tony Award-winning director, to leave Intiman", May 19, 2009
  7. ^ "Intiman release", accessed August 23, 2011
  8. ^ Healy, Patrick."Seattle Theater Takes No-Frills Approach to Filling a Top Job"The New York Times, August 16, 2009.
  9. ^ "Radio interview", December 3, 2001
  10. ^ "Script summary", accessed August 23, 2011[dead link]
  11. ^ Isherwood, Charles."Modern Neurotics Mingling With the Ghosts of Vienna"The New York Times, January 29, 2005
  12. ^ Huffman, Kelly."Review:'Prayer for My Enemy'", August 10, 2007
  13. ^ Simonson, Robert."Tony-Winning Light in the Piazza Extends at Lincoln Center Until Jan. 1", June 9, 2005
  14. ^ "Electra production", accessed August 23, 2011
  15. ^ Bartlett Sher interview about Electra and New York City Opera, accessed August 23, 2011
  16. ^ "Production history", accessed August 23, 2011[dead link]
  17. ^ Schweitzer, Vivien."Swan Song of Offenbach, the Outsider"The New York Times, November 25, 2009
  18. ^ Brantley, Ben."Here's Your Valium, What's Your Hurry?"The New York Times, November 5, 2010, pg C1
  19. ^ Tommasini, Anthony."With Rossini’s Mix of This and That, the Met Finds an Excuse for a Romp"The New York Times, March 25, 2011
  20. ^ Gans, Andrew."Los Angeles and Broadway Engagements of 'Funny Girl' Postponed", November 3, 2011
  21. ^ Isherwood, Charles "The Sweet Science vs. the Stradivarius", New York Times, December 6, 2012
  22. ^ New York Theatre "Golden Boy Reviews are Mostly Raves..."
  23. ^ Herbert, Keith And Chayes, Matthew."Obamas Come to New York to see Broadway Show"Newsday, May 30, 2009.
  24. ^ Healy, Patrick."Race an Issue in Wilson Play, and in Its Production", New York Times, April 22, 2009

External links[edit]