Leigh Silverman

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Leigh Silverman is an American director for the stage, both off-Broadway and on Broadway. She was nominated for the 2014 Tony Award, Best Direction of a Musical for the musical Violet and the 2008 Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Director of a Play for the play From Up Here.


Early life[edit]

Silverman was born in Rockville, Maryland, went to high school in Washington, D.C., and attended Carnegie Mellon University, earning a BFA in Directing and an MFA in Playwriting.[1][2]

Upon graduation, she had an internship at the New York Theater Workshop. Silverman said "I can say, without a doubt, that most, if not all, of my important theatrical relationships came out of my time with New York Theater Workshop."[3]


Silverman directed the Lisa Kron play Well off-Broadway at The Public Theater; the play ran from March 2004 to May 2004. She also directed Well on Broadway in 2006. Among other awards, the play was nominated for the Outer Critics Circle Award, Outstanding Off-Broadway Play. She directed Kron's play In the Wake in its premiere engagement at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles, California in March 2010.[4] She directed In the Wake at the Public Theater in November 2010.[5]

She has directed many plays off-Broadway, including Blue Door by Tanya Barfield in 2006 at Playwrights Horizons, for which she was nominated for the Audelco Award, Best Director. The New York Times reviewer wrote that the play was "directed with care by Leigh Silverman."[6] She directed From Up Here, by Liz Flahive at The Manhattan Theatre Club's off-Broadway City Center Stage I in 2008[7] and received a 2008 Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Director of a Play.[8] She directed David Greenspan's Go Back to Where You Are at the off-Broadway Playwrights Horizons' Peter Jay Sharp Theater, opening in March 2011.[9] She received the 2011 Obie Award, as director, for Go Back to Where You Are and In the Wake.[10][11]

On Broadway, she was the Associate Director for the musical Never Gonna Dance in 2003. She directed Chinglish by David Henry Hwang at the Goodman Theatre, Chicago in June to July 2011[12] and on Broadway in October 2011.[13] She was nominated for the Joseph Jefferson Awards as Director of the Goodman Theatre production of Chinglish.[14]

Silverman directed the premiere of Hansol Jung's Cardboard Piano at the 2016 Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, Kentucky.[15] She directed the revival of the musical Violet on Broadway for the Roundabout Theatre Company in 2013 and received a Tony Award nomination as Best Director.[16] The USAToday reviewer wrote that the musical was "quietly affecting and lovingly staged by director Leigh Silverman."[17]

Silverman directed Bright Half Life, a new play by Tanya Barfield at the off-Broadway Women's Project Theatre in February 2015. This is the third time Silverman and Barfield have worked together.[18] (She previously directed Barfield's The Call in 2013 and Blue Door in 2006.)

She directed the world premiere of the Neil Labute play The Way We Get By at the off-Broadway Second Stage Theatre, which opened on May 19, 2015, and closed on June 21. The cast starred Thomas Sadoski and Amanda Seyfried.[19][20][21] She directed the Encores! Off-Center production of Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party in July 2015, starring Sutton Foster and Steven Pasquale.[22] She directed another LaBute play, All the Ways to Say I Love You, which ran off-Broadway from September 28, 2016 to October 23, 2016 and starred Judith Light in this solo play.[23][24][25]

She directed the off-Broadway revival of the musical Sweet Charity, which started at the Pershing Square Signature Center on November 2, 2016 (previews) and ran through December 23. The musical starred Sutton Foster.[26]

For the Roundabout Theatre's Underground, she directed On the Exhale by Martin Zimmerman, which premiered off-Broadway at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre on February 7, 2017 (previews), and ran through April 2. This one-woman play starred Marin Ireland.[27]

In 2017 she also directed the world-premiere of Hurricane Diane by Madeleine George at the Two River Theater in New York. The cast included Mia Barron (Sandy Fleischer), Becca Blackwell (Diane), Nikiya Mathis (Renee Shapiro-Epps), Danielle Skraastad (Pam Annunziata) and Kate Wetherhead (Beth Wann).[28] In September of the same year, Silverman directed the world-premiere of Hansol Jung's Wild Goose Dreams at La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego.[29]

In 2018, for the Minetta Lane Theatre she directed the monologue Harry Clarke by David Cale with Billy Crudup in the title role.[30]

She also directed the world premiere of David Henry Hwang's musical Soft Power at the Ahmanson Theatre in from May to June of 2018. The production was presented by Center Theatre Group in association with East West Players, and featured music by Jeanine Tesori as well as choreography by Sam Pinkleton.[31]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 2014 Tony Award, Best Direction of a Musical, Violet, nominated
  • 2011 Obie Award, Direction, In the Wake, won
  • 2011 Obie Award, Direction, Go Back to Where You Are, won
  • 2008 Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Director of a Play, From Up Here, nominated
  • 2007 Audelco Award Nomination, Director, Blue Door, nominated


  1. ^ Tallmer, Jerry. "The personal, universal world of Leigh Silverman" The Villager, October 4–10, 2006 (Vol. 76, Number 20
  2. ^ "Interview with Director, Leigh Silverman" roundabouttheatre.org, March 26, 2014
  3. ^ McElroy, Steven. "One to Watch. Leigh Silverman" The New York Times, February 26, 2006, accessed May 18, 2016
  4. ^ Stoudt, Charlotte. "Lisa Kron's 'The Wake' revisits the 2000 presidential election and Sept. 11" Los Angeles Times March 14, 2010
  5. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Thanksgiving Gets Political in Lisa Kron's 'In the Wake', Opening at the Public Nov. 1" playbill.com, November 1, 2010
  6. ^ Isherwood, Charles. "Theater Review. 'Blue Door'. With Help From Family Ghosts, Tricking Out the Mysteries of Identity" The New York Times, October 9, 2006
  7. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Tony Winner Julie White Stars in Flahive's 'From Up Here' in NYC" playbill.com March 27, 2008
  8. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Drama Desk Nominees Announced; 'Catered Affair' Garners 12 Noms" playbill.com, April 28, 2008
  9. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "David Greenspan Is Time-Traveling Actor in 'Go Back to Where You Are', Beginning March 24" playbill.com, March 24, 2011
  10. ^ The 56th Obie Awards" nytheatre-wire.com, accessed April 29, 2015
  11. ^ Grode, Eric. "56th Annual Obie" Village Voice, May 18, 2011
  12. ^ "World premiere of David Henry Hwang's Sexy New Comedy, CHINGLISH (June 18 - July 24), Completes Goodman Theatre's 'Decade on Dearborn' Celebratory Season". Broadway's Best Shows. May 31, 2011. Archived from the original on March 30, 2012. Retrieved 2011-10-06.
  13. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "West Meets East: David Henry Hwang's 'Chinglish' Opens on Broadway" playbill.com, October 27, 2011
  14. ^ "Jeff 2011 Equity Awards Announced". Jeff Awards. August 31, 2011. Archived from the original on November 8, 2011. Retrieved 2009-09-20.
  15. ^ Kramer, Elizabeth (March 28, 2016). "'Cardboard Piano' a Humana Festival standout". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved March 17, 2021.
  16. ^ Gordon, David. "With 'Violet' on Broadway, Director Leigh Silverman Journeys to Her First Tony Nomination" theatermania.com, May 22, 2014
  17. ^ Gardner, Elysa. "Sutton Foster shows different shades in 'Violet'" USAToday, April 21, 2014
  18. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Tanya Barfield's 'Bright Half Life', Directed by Leigh Silverman, Opens Off-Broadway Tonight" playbill.com, February 25, 2015
  19. ^ Levitt, Hayley. "First Look at Thomas Sadoski and Amanda Seyfried in 'The Way We Get By'" theatermania.com, May 6, 2015
  20. ^ Levitt, Hayley. "'The Way We Get By' Extends at Second Stage" May 27, 2015
  21. ^ The Way We Get By lortel.org, accessed October 8, 2015
  22. ^ "Review Roundup: Encores! Off-Center's 'The Wild Party'" broadwayworld.com, July 16, 2015
  23. ^ Clement, Olivia. " 'All the Ways to Say I Love You', Starring Judith Light, Opens Tonight", Playbill, September 28, 2016
  24. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Review: ‘All the Ways to Say I Love You,’ a Lesson in Guilt", The New York Times, September 28, 2016
  25. ^ Staff. "Critics Review Judith Light in Neil LaBute’s 'All the Ways to Say I Love You'", Playbill, September 29, 2016
  26. ^ Clement, Olivia. " 'Sweet Charity' Announces Two-Week Extension", Playbill, August 22, 2016
  27. ^ McPheee, Ryan. "Marin Ireland Will Star in 'On the Exhale', Martin Zimmerman's New Play About America's Gun Violence Crisis, Off-Broadway", broadway.com, September 26, 2017
  28. ^ Collins-Hughes, Laura (6 February 2017). "Review: The God of Wine Stirs No Sexual Whirlwind in 'Hurricane Diane'". The New York Times.
  29. ^ Levitt, Hayley (September 3, 2017). "Playwright Hansol Jung and Director Leigh Silverman Analyze Their Wild Goose Dreams | TheaterMania". www.theatermania.com. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
  30. ^ Green, Jesse (22 November 2017). "Review: Who is 'Harry Clarke,' and Why is He So Appealing?". The New York Times.
  31. ^ Wood, Ximón (23 August 2017). "Soft Power". East West Players. Retrieved 2019-07-11.

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