Susan Stroman

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Susan Stroman
Susan Stroman.jpg
Born (1954-10-17) October 17, 1954 (age 60)
Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.
Years active 1970s–present
Spouse(s) Mike Ockrent (1996–1999, his death)

Susan P. Stroman[1] (born October 17, 1954) is an American theatre director, choreographer, film director, and performer. She is a five-time Tony Award winner, four for Best Choreography and one as Best Director of a Musical for The Producers.

Early years[edit]

Stroman was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the daughter of Frances (née Nolan) and Charles Harry Stroman.[2][3] She was exposed to show tunes by her piano-playing salesman father. She began studying dance, concentrating on jazz, tap, and ballet at the age of five. She studied under James Jamieson at the Academy of the Dance in Wilmington. She majored in English at the University of Delaware.[4] She performed, choreographed and directed at community theaters in the Delaware and Philadelphia area. After graduating in 1976, she moved to New York City. Her first professional appearance was in Hit the Deck at the Goodspeed Opera House in 1977. Her first Broadway credit was as an ensemble member in the 1979 musical Whoopee!. In 1980 she was assistant director, assistant choreographer, and dance captain for the Broadway show Musical Chairs. Wanting to direct and choreograph instead of perform, Stroman concentrated on creating for the theater.[5] She worked in small venues as a director and choreographer in various industrial shows, club acts and commercials.

Career[edit]

Stroman's big break as a choreographer came in 1987 when director Scott Ellis hired her for his Off-Broadway revival of Flora the Red Menace (music by John Kander and Fred Ebb) at the Vineyard Theatre in Greenwich Village. Her work there was seen by Hal Prince, who hired her to work on the dance sequences for his New York City Opera production of Don Giovanni Her relationship with Kander and Ebb led to co-creating, with Ellis and David Thompson, the hit Off-Broadway musical And the World Goes 'Round in 1991. She went on to choreograph Liza Stepping Out at Radio City Music Hall in 1992, receiving an Emmy nomination for her work. She earned her third Broadway credit for her collaboration with director, and then-future husband, Mike Ockrent on Crazy for You in 1992. The show won the Tony Award for Best Musical and she won her first Tony Award for Best Choreography.

In 1994, Stroman won her second Tony Award when she collaborated with Prince on a revival of Show Boat, where she unleashed some of her most innovative ideas. She added several dance montages to the show, complete with a revolving door, to help guide the audience through the generations that are covered in the show. Stroman heavily researched the period in which the show takes place and learned that African-Americans are credited for inventing the Charleston. She used that information in designing the montages, as the popular dance is introduced by and eventually appropriated from the black characters. In 1994, Stroman collaborated again with her husband, Mike Ockrent on the holiday spectacular "A Christmas Carol" at Madison Square Garden, which ran for 10 years, and the Broadway show Big, The Musical (1996). She returned to her collaboration with Kander and Ebb, Ellis and Thompson on the Broadway show Steel Pier (1997). In 1999, her choreography of Oklahoma!, directed by Trevor Nunn at The Royal National Theater, won Stroman her second Olivier Award for her outstanding choreography. Her husband Mike Ockrent lost his battle with leukemia on December 2, 1999

She immersed herself in her work and directed and choreographed her first Broadway show as director, the 2000 revival of The Music Man. At the same time, Stroman was approached by Lincoln Center Theater's artistic director Andre Bishop, who offered assistance with developing the project of her choice. She and John Weidman, who had written the book for Big, began working on what would become the three-part "dance play" Contact, which she choreographed as well as directed. The show opened at Lincoln Center's Mitzi Newhouse Theater in the fall of 1999, and later transferred to the larger Vivian Beaumont Theater, where it was reclassified as a musical. It won the 2000 Tony Award for Best Musical. Stroman won her third Tony Award for best choreography. Contact won a 2003 Emmy Award for Outstanding Classical Music-Dance Program when a live broadcast of the show appeared as an episode of PBS’s Live from Lincoln Center. For Lincoln Center Theater, Stroman went on to direct and choreograph Thou Shalt Not (2001) with music by Harry Connick Jr. and The Frogs (2004) with book by Nathan Lane. Stroman received the American Choreography Award for her work in Columbia Pictures Feature film Center Stage (2000). In 2001, Stroman directed and choreographed Mel Brooks' musical The Producers. Stroman's late husband, Ockrent, had initially been named to direct. It was a commercial success and won a record twelve Tony Awards. Stroman won her fourth and fifth Tony Awards for direction and choreography, becoming the first woman to win both awards in the same night. She was also the second woman ever to win Best Direction of a Musical after Julie Taymor in 1998. In 2005, she made her feature film directorial debut with a film adaptation of the show. The movie was nominated for four Golden Globe Awards. In 2007, she again collaborated with Brooks, as director and choreographer of the musical Young Frankenstein. She is both director and choreographer of the musical Happiness, which has a book by John Weidman. The musical opened in 2009 at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center.

The musical The Scottsboro Boys opened at the Vineyard Theatre in February 2010. The music is by Kander and Ebb and the book is by David Thompson; Stroman both directed and choreographed.[6] The show later transferred to Broadway where it ran for 49 performances at the Lyceum Theatre and received 12 Tony Award Nominations. Regional theaters such as San Diego’s Old Globe and the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco have mounted successful productions of the show. The Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles recently announced a production for 2013.[7] Stroman directed the UK premiere of The Scottsboro Boys at the Young Vic in London in October 2013.[8]

She co-directed with Hal Prince the new musical Paradise Found, which premiered at the Menier Chocolate Factory(London) on May 19, 2010. The cast included Mandy Patinkin, Judy Kaye and Shuler Hensley.[9] She is collaborating with Prince once again as co-director of a new musical entitled Prince of Broadway, a retrospective of the career and life of Hal Prince.

Stroman is the director and choreographer of a new musical, Big Fish with songs by Andrew Lippa and book by John August. The show, based on the book and film of the same name, will open at the Oriental Theater in Chicago before heading to Broadway in fall of 2013.[10]

Stroman worked with Woody Allen on a musical adaptation of his film Bullets Over Broadway, titled Bullets Over Broadway the Musical, which opened on Broadway in April 2014.[11]

Dance[edit]

In 2004, Stroman was the first woman to choreograph a full-length ballet for New York City Ballet. Double Feature, with music by Irving Berlin and Walter Donaldson, is now in the New York City Ballet repertory.[12]

Stroman had previously worked with New York City Ballet in 1999, when she created Blossom Got Kissed, featuring the music of Duke Ellington, to celebrate the company’s 50th Anniversary season. She later revisited the piece, choreographing three additional short dances to be performed alongside the original. This new expanded ballet entitled For the Love of Duke premiered in May 2011.

In 1997 she created But Not for Me for the Martha Graham Company, using the music of George Gershwin.

The world premiere of Take Five…More Or Less with The Pacific Northwest Ballet opened in 2008. Stroman combined jazz music by Dave Brubeck and classical pointe work. The ballet is now in their repertoire.[13]

Television[edit]

She appeared as herself in Season Four of the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm, directing Larry David and David Schwimmer in a production of the Broadway hit musical, The Producers.

She has also made multiple appearances as herself on the Food Network's Barefoot Contessa program, as she is a close friend of its host, Ina Garten.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Stroman is the recipient of five Tony Awards, two Lawrence Olivier Awards, five Drama Desk Awards, eight Outer Critic Circle Awards, two Lucille Lortel Awards and a record five Astaire Awards. She is the recipient of the George Abbott Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Theater.

Awards
  • 2010 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Choreographer – The Scottsboro Boys
  • 2002 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography – Oklahoma
  • 2002 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Choreography – Oklahoma
  • 2001 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography – The Producers
  • 2001 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical – The Producers
  • 2001 Drama League's Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre Award
  • 2001 George Abbott Award for Outstanding Achievement in Theater
  • 2001 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Choreography – The Producers
  • 2001 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical – The Producers
  • 2001 Tony Award for Best Choreography – The Producers
  • 2001 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical – The Producers
  • 2000 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography – Contact
  • 2000 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Director – Contact
  • 2000 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Choreography – Contact and The Music Man
  • 2000 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical – Contact and The Music Man
  • 2000 Tony Award for Best Choreography – Contact
  • 1999 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Theatre Choreographer – Oklahoma
  • 1995 Outer Critics Award for Best Choreography – Show Boat and A Christmas Carol
  • 1995 Tony Award for Best Choreography – Show Boat
  • 1993 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Theatre Choreographer – Crazy for You
  • 1992 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography – Crazy for You
  • 1992 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Choreography – Crazy for You
  • 1992 Tony Award for Best Choreography – Crazy for You
  • 1991 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Choreography – And the World Goes Round
Nominations
  • 2011 Tony Award for Best Choreography – The Scottsboro Boys
  • 2011 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical – The Scottsboro Boys
  • 2010 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography – The Scottsboro Boys[14]
  • 2010 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical – Scottsboro Boys
  • 2010 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Choreography – The Scottsboro Boys[15]
  • 2009 Outer Critic Circle Award for Outstanding Choreography – Happiness
  • 2009 Outer Critic Circle Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical – Happiness
  • 2008 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography – Young Frankenstein
  • 2007 Outer Critic Circle Award for Outstanding Choreography – Young Frankenstein
  • 2007 Outer Critic Circle Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical – Young Frankenstein
  • 2002 Tony Award for Best Choreography – Oklahoma
  • 2000 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical – Contact
  • 2000 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography – The Music Man
  • 2000 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical – The Music Man
  • 2000 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical – Contact
  • 2000 Tony Award for Best Choreography – The Music Man
  • 2000 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical – The Music Man
  • 1997 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography – Big
  • 1997 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography – Steel Pier
  • 1997 Outer Critics Award for Best Choreography – Steel Pier
  • 1997 Tony Award for Best Choreography – Steel Pier
  • 1996 Tony Award for Best Choreography – Big
  • 1993 Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography – Liza Minnelli Live from Radio City Musical Hall
  • 1991 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography – And the World Goes Round

Stage productions[edit]

Theater
Dance

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.udel.edu/PR/Messenger/93/3/25.html
  2. ^ "Susan Stroman Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  3. ^ http://www.dmvobits.com/archives.cfm?obit=8759
  4. ^ Susan Stroman biography jewishvirtuallibrary.org, retrieved January 5, 2010
  5. ^ Susan Stroman Biography tributemovies.com, retrieved January 5, 2010
  6. ^ Hernandez, Ernio."Stroman Brings New Musical The Scottsboro Boys to Off-Broadway" playbill.com, February 12, 2010
  7. ^ http://www.centertheatregroup.org/tickets/2013/The-Scottsboro-Boys/
  8. ^ Gardner, Lyn (October 20, 2013). "The Scottsboro Boys review – a dazzling civil rights musical". guardian.com. Retrieved November 29, 2014. 
  9. ^ Jones, Kenneth."Prince and Stroman Unveil New Musical Paradise Found in London May 19" playbill.com, May 19, 2010
  10. ^ http://popwatch.ew.com/2013/01/14/big-fish-musical-swimming-to-broadway-this-fall/
  11. ^ "Susan Stroman Will Direct 'Bullets Over Broadway' Musical" The New York Times, 2012
  12. ^ "Double Feature" nycballet.com, retrieved January 5, 2010
  13. ^ Press Release"Pacific Northwest Ballet", February 6, 2009
  14. ^ Gans, Andrew."Drama Desk Award Nominations Announced; Ragtime and Scottsboro Top List" playbill.com, May 3, 2010
  15. ^ Gans, Andrew."Memphis, La Cage, Zeta-Jones, Finneran and More Are Outer Critics Circle Award Winners" playbill.com, May 17, 2010

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]