Michael Mayer (director)

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Michael Mayer
Mayer in 2018
Born (1960-06-27) June 27, 1960 (age 63)[1]
EducationNew York University (MFA)
Occupation(s)Theater director, filmmaker, playwright
Years active1976-present
SpouseRoger Waltzman

Michael Mayer (born June 27, 1960) is an American theatre director, filmmaker, and playwright. He won the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical in 2007 for directing Spring Awakening.


Mayer was born in Bethesda, Maryland, to Jewish parents Jerry and Louise Mayer (born 1936).[2][3] For his bar mitzvah, he asked his parents for a movie camera and received a Super 8 single lens with a zoom.[4] His first film was a dramatization of "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia".[5] After graduating from Charles W. Woodward High School, he studied at the University of Wisconsin before transferring to study acting at New York University (NYU)'s Graduate Acting Program at the Tisch School of the Arts, where he earned an MFA in Theater in 1983.[6][7] He began performing onstage in New York City, performing in plays such as Tony Kushner's A Bright Room Called Day, but by 1990 had turned his efforts to directing, working as a freelancer while also teaching at NYU, the Lincoln Center Theater Institute, and the Juilliard School. He also served as an assistant director for Kushner's Hydriotaphia.[8]


In 2007, Mayer won his first Tony Award for his direction of the musical adaptation of Spring Awakening (2006), which also won the award for Best Musical. He was nominated for the 2002 Tony for his direction of Thoroughly Modern Millie, which he then directed on London's West End. Mayer also won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical for both Spring Awakening and Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Other Broadway credits include The Lion in Winter (1999), the 1999 revival of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and Side Man (1998; Drama Desk Award). He directed the 1998 Tony Award-winning revival of Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge starring Anthony LaPaglia and Brittany Murphy, for which he was nominated for a Tony and won a Drama Desk Award. He directed Triumph of Love in 1997, starring Betty Buckley, Susan Egan, and F. Murray Abraham, with music by Jeffrey Stock and lyrics by Susan Bikenhead.

Mayer directed and co-wrote the book for the Green Day-inspired musical American Idiot, based on the band's album of the same name. He directed and "re-conceived" the 2011 revival of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever starring Harry Connick Jr. He directed the first Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which opened in 2014.


Mayer's off-Broadway directing credits include Little Shop of Horrors, The Credeaux Canvas, John C. Russell's Stupid Kids, Peter Hedges' Baby Anger, Theresa Rebeck's View of the Dome, and the New York premiere of Janusz Głowacki's Antigone in New York.

Film and television[edit]

After directing on- and off-Broadway for more than 15 years, Mayer made his feature-film directorial debut with A Home at the End of the World, starring Colin Farrell and Robin Wright Penn, in 2004. He went on to make the family film Flicka (2006), an adaptation of the story My Friend Flicka, which became a hit in DVD market. In 2013 and 2014 he directed select episodes of Amazon's Alpha House starring John Goodman. In 2015, he directed a new film adaptation of The Seagull, starring Annette Bening, Corey Stoll, and Saoirse Ronan.

He directed the pilot and three subsequent episodes of NBC's TV series Smash, which were broadcast starting in February 2012.[9]

He should not be confused with the identically spelled Michael Mayer, who directed a film titled Graduation (2007).[10]


Mayer made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2012 with Rigoletto; he reset the scene from 16th-century Mantua to 1960s Las Vegas. He was the director of the premiere of Nico Muhly's Marnie for the English National Opera in 2017, which was later performed at the Metropolitan Opera in 2018. He also directed a new production of Verdi's La traviata for the Metropolitan Opera in December 2018.

Personal life[edit]

Mayer is openly gay. He lives with his partner, oncologist Roger Waltzmann, in Chelsea, Manhattan.[11] He is close friends with playwright Tony Kushner, whom he met while studying at NYU.[12]

Stage productions[edit]



  • Little Shop of Horrors (2019)
  • WarholCapote (2017)
  • Love, Love, Love (2016)
  • God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (2016)
  • Whorl Inside a Loop (2015, with Dick Scanlan)
  • Brooklynite (2015)
  • Everyday Rapture (2009)
  • Our House
  • 10 Million Miles
  • Spring Awakening (2006)
  • Missing Persons
  • America Dreaming
  • Hundreds of Hats

West End

National tour



Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
1999 Tony Award Best Direction of a Musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown Nominated
2002 Thoroughly Modern Millie Nominated
2007 Spring Awakening Won
2014 Hedwig and the Angry Inch Nominated
2021 Grammy Awards Best Musical Theater Album Little Shop of Horrors Nominated [13]
2022 Drama League Award Best Direction of a Musical Funny Girl Nominated


  1. ^ https://www.backstage.com/magazine/article/catching-michael-mayer-41619/[bare URL]
  2. ^ Drukman, Steven (January 3, 1999). "THEATER; A Two-Career Man: Theater Director And Jewish Mother". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  3. ^ "Names & Faces" (column), The Washington Post, May 9, 1998, "Style" section, page D3.
  4. ^ Winters, Pamela Murray (August 6, 2004). "A New Direction". Washington City Paper.
  5. ^ "Michael Mayer biography and filmography | Michael Mayer movies". Tribute.ca. Retrieved August 28, 2015.
  6. ^ "NYU Graduate Acting Alumni". nyu.tisch.edu. 2011. Archived from the original on November 27, 2011. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  7. ^ Weinraub, Judith (May 7, 1995). "Angels' Around America: Elaborate staging and mature themes make the Broadway hit a risk on the road". The Washington Post. p. G7.
  8. ^ Alexis Greene (June 14, 1998). "Hot director takes the stage(s)". The Star-Ledger, "Spotlight". p. 2.
  9. ^ Jones, Kenneth (January 23, 2012). "The 'Smash' Report: Pilot — No People Like Show People, or Heaven on Earth". Playbill.
  10. ^ Michael Mayer (director) at IMDb
  11. ^ Rousuck, J. Wynn (October 31, 2004). "Director finds a home in theater and film". The Baltimore Sun.
  12. ^ Simonson, Robert (August 24, 2010). "SECOND FLOOR OF SARDI'S: A Drink With Michael Mayer". Playbill.
  13. ^ "2021 GRAMMYs Awards Show: Complete Winners & Nominees List". www.grammy.com. Retrieved January 15, 2023.

External links[edit]