Diane Paulus

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Diane Paulus
Diane Marie Paulus

1966 (age 55–56)
New York City, U.S.
EducationHarvard University (BA)
Columbia University (MFA)
(m. 1995)

Diane Marie Paulus (born 1966) is an American theater and opera director who is currently the Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director of the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University.[1][2] Paulus was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for her revivals of Hair and The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, and won the award in 2013 for her revival of Pippin.

She received the 2009 Harvard College Women's Leadership Award and the Columbia University IAL Diamond Award. She was selected for the 2014 Time 100, Time magazine's annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world; as one of Variety's "Trailblazing Women in Entertainment for 2014"; Boston magazine's "50 Thought Leaders of 2014";[3] and Boston magazine's 2018[4] and 2020[5] "100 Most Influential People in Boston".

Early life and education[edit]

Paulus was born in New York City in 1966, the daughter of a Japanese mother and an American father. Her parents met while her father, a New York television producer, was stationed in Japan after World War II.[6][7]

She attended the Brearley School, studied dance at New York City Ballet, and trained in classical piano.[2] In 1988, she graduated magna cum laude from Radcliffe College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in social studies and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.[8] She then earned a master's degree from the Columbia University School of the Arts.[2]


Paulus and her husband, Randy Weiner, along with a few other theater school graduates established a small theater troupe in New York City called Project 400 Theatre Group.[2][9] With Project 400, Paulus and Weiner specialized in creating avant-garde musical productions which married classic theater and modern music.[10] Paulus' first production with the group was a rock version of The Tempest.[10] Other productions included an R&B Phaedra and a hip-hop Lohengrin.[10] In collaboration with Weiner, Paulus co-created The Donkey Show, a disco adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream which ran off-Broadway from 1999 to 2005.[11] Critics cited the production as an example of a trend in which edgy avant-garde theater had become fashionably mainstream.[12]

In May 2008, Paulus was named the artistic director of the American Repertory Theater (affiliated with Harvard University). The American Repertory Theater chose Paulus after Anna D. Shapiro, the August: Osage County director, decided not to take the job to replace Robert Woodruff.[13] Paulus' first production was a revival of The Donkey Show, written by Paulus and her husband Randy Weiner.[11] Paulus previously taught courses at Columbia University and Yale University.[13]

In 2010, Paulus was selected by the magazine American Theatre as one of the 25 theater artists who were asked to share their vision of coming developments in the next 25 years in the theater world.[14] In her comments she talks about her goal to "revolutionize" the theatre experience by making it more interactive, letting the audience participate and making theatre content more "open source". She has also argued that theater has the power to make people more compassionate and cooperative citizens.[15]

Also in 2010, Paulus directed Il mondo della luna (The World on the Moon), an opera by Joseph Haydn, in the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. A Gotham Chamber Opera, in partnership with the Museum and in association with American Repertory Theater, Paulus' production fused live opera and stargazing using the 180-degree dome with projections courtesy of NASA.[16]

Paulus directed a concert production of Paul Simon's The Capeman at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park for the Public Theater in August 2010.[17]

In 2011 she staged a production of the Gershwin opera Porgy and Bess at the American Repertory Theater, which moved to Broadway in 2012. The production was nominated for 9 awards in the 2012 Tony Awards, winning Best Revival of a Musical and Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for Audra McDonald. The production ran through September 23, 2012.[18] In advance of this production, renowned composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim expressed his dismay on her proposed edits and directorial choices in a letter to The New York Times.[19]

In 2012, Paulus directed a production of Pippin for the American Repertory Theater. She cast a woman, Patina Miller, in the part of Leading Player, originated by Ben Vereen. The production opened on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre on Broadway, on April 25, 2013.[20] Paulus won the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical, becoming the third woman to win the award after Julie Taymor in 1998 and Susan Stroman in 2001.[21] The production also received Tony Awards for Best Revival of a Musical, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for Miller, and Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical for Andrea Martin.[22]

In 2014, at the American Repertory Theater Paulus directed the American premier of the musical Finding Neverland, based on the film of the same name. Tony winner Roger Bart was announced to star, but left the project over creative differences.[23] At the American Repertory Theater, Michael McGrath replaced Bart as Charles Frohman, a role played on Broadway by Kelsey Grammer. Finding Neverland was produced on Broadway by Harvey Weinstein and played the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre for 565 performances. It was nominated for no Tony Awards.

In 2015, Paulus directed the new musical Waitress, based on the 2007 film of the same name, written by Adrienne Shelly. The music was written by six-time Grammy Award nominated singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles. Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel was announced to write the book of the musical, but left the project.[24] The production was notable after it moved to Broadway and became the first Broadway musical with an all female creative team.[25] The musical was nominated for four Tony Awards, winning none. It was also nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, losing to The Color Purple. Waitress played on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in April 2016 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, closing in January 2020 after 1,544 performances. It completed a United States National Tour and a run in London's West End in 2020.[citation needed]

In 2018, Paulus directed the new musical Jagged Little Pill, based on the Grammy Award-winning 1995 album by Alanis Morissette. It incorporated selections from Morissette's catalogue and new material written for the show. Its creative team included Academy Award winner Diablo Cody, Tony Award Winner Tom Kitt, and Olivier Award winner Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Jagged Little Pill debuted at the American Repertory Theater in May 2018 and opened at the Broadhurst Theatre in December 2019.[citation needed]

In 2020, Griffin Matthews spoke out on his racism-laden experience during the production of his musical Invisible Thread directed by Paulus at Second Stage in 2015, which ran the previous year at the A.R.T. under the title Witness Uganda. She responded with a statement published in The Boston Globe.[citation needed]

Paulus will direct the West End production of Jagged Little Pill when it transfers to London in November 2022.[26]

Personal life[edit]

On October 1, 1995, she married fellow Harvard graduate Randy Weiner.[8] They have two daughters. They live on the top three floors of a townhouse on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.[27]


The playwright and actor Griffin Matthews called Paulus, director of his work Witness Uganda, an "Amy Cooper", a metaphor for a type of white person in the theater industry that demeaned the work and contributions of African-Americans. On June 1, 2020, he said on Twitter:

The thing about [Broadway] Amy Cooper is, she is a liberal, she is an artistic director, she is a Tony winner, she is a producer, she teaches at Harvard, she is charismatic, she is an excellent public speaker and fundraiser, she puts on pretty dresses and speaks eloquently about how much she cares about diversity and inclusion. She has made her entire career about that. She works with black people. She believes she loves black people. She buys their work. And then, behind closed doors, she steals it.[28]

Paulus apologized on A.R.T.'s website on June 4 in a statement that was picked up by Playbill, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and other outlets.[28]


Year Award Category Work Result
2009 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Hair Nominated
Tony Award Outstanding Direction of a Musical Nominated
2011 Elliot Norton Award Outstanding Director, Large Theater Hair, Johnny Baseball, Prometheus Bound Won
2012 Tony Award Outstanding Direction of a Musical The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess Nominated
Drama League Award Excellence in Direction Won
2013 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Pippin Won
Tony Award Outstanding Direction of a Musical Won
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Won
2017 Elliot Norton Award Prize for Sustained Excellence Won
2020 Tony Award[29] Outstanding Direction of a Musical Jagged Little Pill Nominated


  • Another Country by James Baldwin at Riverside Church
  • Turandot: Rumble for the Ring at the Bay Street Theater
  • The Golden Mickeys for Disney Creative Entertainment
  • The Karaoke Show, an adaptation of Comedy of Errors set in a karaoke bar, produced by Jordan Roth Productions
  • Running Man by jazz composer and frequent collaborator Diedre Murray and poet Cornelius Eady
  • Brutal Imagination
  • At Chicago Opera Theater: Le Nozze Di Figaro, Turn Of The Screw, Cosi Fan Tutte, and all three Monteverdi opera, Il Ritorno D'Ulisse In Patria, L'Incoronazione Di Poppea, and Orfeo[30]
  • Amaluna the 2012 Cirque Du Soleil touring show[31]
  • Death and the Powers: The Robots' Opera, an opera written by Tod Machover incorporating robots on stage

American Repertory Theater[edit]


  • Invisible Thread (formerly Witness Uganda)
  • Swimming with Watermelons, created in association with Project 400, the theater company she co-founded with her husband Randy Weiner.
  • The Obie award-winning Eli's Comin, featuring the music and lyrics of Laura Nyro.
  • The 40th Anniversary Concert Production of Hair at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park for the Public Theater as well as the subsequent production of Hair on Broadway which won a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical and for which she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Director.


  1. ^ "Diane Paulus appointed artistic director of the American Repertory Theatre". Harvard Gazette. May 22, 2008. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Colleen Walsh, "Paulus reaches beyond boards", Harvard Gazette, April 23, 2009
  3. ^ Nanos, Janelle (April 29, 2014). "The Power of Ideas: Boston's Most Powerful Thought Leaders". Boston. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  4. ^ Bernstein, David S. (April 24, 2018). "The 100 Most Influential People in Boston". Boston. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  5. ^ Bernstein, David S. "Power List: The 100 Most Influential Bostonians". Boston. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  6. ^ Ouzounian, Richard (January 21, 2011). "The Big Interview with Diane Paulus". thestar.com. The Toronto Star. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  7. ^ Pacheco, Patrick (May 4, 2015). "How Diane Paulus' Kids Inspired Her for 'Finding Neverland'". Gotham. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  8. ^ a b "Weddings; Diane M. Paulus, Randy Weiner", The New York Times, October 1, 1995
  9. ^ Ricky Spears, "Quick Wit: Anna Wilson " Archived June 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, TheaterMania, July 7, 2000
  10. ^ a b c Eric V. Copage, "Not Your Mother's Musical, and That's the Point", The New York Times, September 6, 1999
  11. ^ a b Megan Tench, "Disco inferno", The Boston Globe, August 23, 2009
  12. ^ Arnold Aronson, American Avant-garde Theatre: A History, Routledge; 1 ed. (2000), p.207
  13. ^ a b Celia McGee, "Harvard's Not-So-Square New Director", The New York Times, August 13, 2008
  14. ^ "An Eye on the Future" Archived March 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine American Theatre, April 2009
  15. ^ Friedersdorf, Conor. "How Theater Can Contribute to Peaceful Coexistence". The Atlantic. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  16. ^ Video of Il mondo della luna simsscoop.com
  17. ^ "Merry Wives - Free Shakespeare in the Park". Publictheater.org. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  18. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Tony-Winning 'The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess' Will Conclude Broadway Run Sept. 23", Playbill. July 18, 2012
  19. ^ "Stephen Sondheim Takes Issue With Plan for Revamped 'Porgy and Bess'". ArtsBeat. The New York Times. August 10, 2011. Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  20. ^ Gioia, Michael.'Pippin' Finds "Glory" in Diane Paulus' Cirque-Inspired Broadway Revival, Opening April 25 playbill.com, April 25, 2013
  21. ^ Gans, Andrew. Nominations Announced for 67th Annual Tony Awards; Kinky Boots Earns 13 Nominations Archived October 21, 2013, at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, April 30, 2013
  22. ^ Ross, Blake (July 14, 2013). "She Flies Through the Air With the Greatest of Ease — Tony Winner Andrea Martin Talks About Singing from a Trapeze in Pippin". Playbill. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  23. ^ Gerard, Jeremy (June 13, 2014). "Not-So-Jolly Roger Bart Jumps Harvey Weinstein's 'Neverland' Ship". Deadline. Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  24. ^ Shanahan, Mark; Goldstein, Meredith (January 7, 2014). "Sara Bareilles on board for 'Waitress' at ART". The Boston Globe. Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  25. ^ Kao, Joanna (March 25, 2016). "'Waitress' Is Making Broadway History With Its All-Female Creative Team". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  26. ^ "Jagged Little Pill to open in the West End this autumn". Whatsonstage.com. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  27. ^ Kaufman, Joanne (May 13, 2016). "At Home With Broadway's Diane Paulus". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  28. ^ a b Eberson, Sharon (June 4, 2020). "Pittsburgher Griffin Matthews speaks out about 'Amy Coopers' of Broadway". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  29. ^ Libbey, Peter (October 15, 2020). "Full List of the 2020 Tony Award Nominees". The New York Times. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  30. ^ a b "DIANE PAULUS - Biography". Dianepaulus.net. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  31. ^ "Concepteurs". Cirque Du Soleil. Retrieved January 30, 2012.

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