Susan Stroman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Susan Stroman
Susan Stroman.jpg
Stroman in 2007
Born (1954-10-17) October 17, 1954 (age 68)
Occupation(s)Choreographer, performer, theatre director
Years active1970s–present
SpouseMike Ockrent (1996–1999, his death)

Susan P. Stroman[1] (born October 17, 1954) is an American theatre director, choreographer, film director and performer. Her notable theater productions include The Producers, Crazy for You, Contact, and The Scottsboro Boys. She is a five-time Tony Award winner, four for Best Choreography and one as Best Director of a Musical for The Producers. In addition, she is a recipient of two Laurence Olivier Awards, five Drama Desk Awards, eight Outer Critics Circle Awards, two Lucille Lortel Awards, and the George Abbott Award for Lifetime Achievement in the American Theater.[2] She is a 2014 inductee in the American Theater Hall of Fame in New York City.[3][4]

Early years[edit]

Stroman was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the daughter of Frances (née Nolan) and Charles Harry Stroman.[5][6] 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.[7] 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. Later that year she was cast in the role of Hunyak[8] in the National tour of Chicago, which marked her first time working with composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb.

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.[9] She worked in small venues as a director and choreographer in various industrial shows, club acts and commercials.[citation needed]



Early career: Flora the Red Menace (1987) to Center Stage (2000)[edit]

Stroman's big break as a choreographer came in 1987 with the Off-Broadway revival of Flora the Red Menace (music by John Kander and Fred Ebb) at the Vineyard Theatre.[10] Her work there was seen by Hal Prince, who hired her to create the dance sequences for his New York City Opera production of Don Giovanni.

Her relationship with Kander and Ebb led to co-creating, along with Scott Ellis and David Thompson, the 1991 hit Off-Broadway musical And the World Goes 'Round. In 1992 she went on to choreograph Liza Stepping Out at Radio City Music Hall[11] starring Liza Minnelli,[12] receiving an Emmy nomination for her work. Later that year she earned her third Broadway credit for her collaboration with director, and then-future husband, Mike Ockrent on Crazy for You. 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 used 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 musical Big, The Musical (1996). She returned to her collaboration with Kander and Ebb, Ellis and Thompson on the Broadway musical 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. Stroman's husband Mike Ockrent died from 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 André 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.

Career after 2001: The Producers (2001) to present[edit]

In 2001, Stroman directed and choreographed the 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. In the fall of 2017, she and Brooks opened a newly revised version of the show at the Garrick Theatre in London's West End[13] after a successful tryout at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle.[14]

She directed and choreographed the musical Happiness, which has a book by John Weidman, music by Scott Frankel and lyrics by Michael Korie. The musical opened in February 2009 at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center.[15]

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.[16] 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 the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, San Diego's Old Globe, American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, and the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles have all mounted successful productions of the show. In 2013, Stroman directed the UK premiere of the show at the Young Vic in London.[17] After its successful run there, the show transferred to the West End where it was honored with the 2014 Evening Standard's Ned Sherrin Award.[18]

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.[19]

Stroman directed and choreographed the 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, opened at the Oriental Theater in Chicago in April and May 2013 and then ran on Broadway in September 2013 to December 2013.[20][21]

In 2014 she directed and choreographed a production of The Merry Widow for the Metropolitan Opera, starring Renee Fleming in the title role.

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.[22]

She directed and choreographed the new musical Little Dancer, which ran at the Kennedy Center, Eisenhower Theater from October 25, 2014 to November 30. The book and lyrics are by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty.[23] In the spring of 2019 she directed and choreographed Marie, Dancing Still[24] for Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre. A newly reworked and retitled production of Little Dancer, the show starred Tiler Peck reprising her title role alongside Terrence Mann and Louise Pitre.

Stroman collaborated 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. The show has orchestrations and new material written by Jason Robert Brown. The revue premiered in Tokyo at the Tokyu Theatre Orb in October 2015 and then ran in Osaka in November through December 2015, and featured Tony Yazbeck, Ramin Karimloo, Shuler Hensley and Nancy Opel.[25][26] It premiered on Broadway on August 24, 2017 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre as a co-production of the Manhattan Theatre Club and Gorgeous Entertainment. The book is by David Thompson.[27]

In 2016 she returned to the Vineyard Theatre to direct the play Dot,[28] written by Colman Domingo. The following year she directed and choreographed her fourth collaboration with the Vineyard Theatre, The Beast in the Jungle,[29] winning the 2018 Joe Callaway Award for excellence in choreography.[30] The music was composed by John Kander and the book written by David Thompson.

In April 2022, Stroman directed the Broadway play POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive, at the Shubert Theatre.[31]

This year, Stroman directed and choreographed the Chichester Festival Theatre revival of Crazy For You, which is also set to transfer to the West End's Gillian Lynne Theatre in 2023.


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.[32]

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.[33]


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.

In 2017 she returned to the show, choreographing Larry David's musical Fatwa!, starring Lin-Manuel Miranda as Salman Rushdie.[34]

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.


Stroman received the American Choreography Award for her work in Columbia Pictures Feature film Center Stage (2000). In 2004, she directed the film version of The Producers.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
1991 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Choreography And the World Goes 'Round Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Choreography Won
1992 Tony Award Best Choreography Crazy For You Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Choreography Won
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Choreography Won
1993 Laurence Olivier Award Best Theatre Choreographer Won
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Individual Achievement in Choreography Liza Minnelli Live from Radio City Music Hall Nominated
1995 Tony Award Best Choreography Show Boat Won
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Choreography Won
A Christmas Carol Won
1996 Tony Award Best Choreography Big Nominated
1997 Tony Award Best Choreography Steel Pier Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Choreography Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Choreography Nominated
1999 Laurence Olivier Award Best Theatre Choreographer Oklahoma! Won
2000 Tony Award Best Direction of a Musical Contact Nominated
The Music Man Nominated
Best Choreography Nominated
Contact Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Nominated
The Music Man Nominated
Outstanding Choreography Nominated
Contact Won
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Won
The Music Man Won
Outstanding Choreography Won
Contact Won
American Choreography Awards Outstanding Achievement in Feature Film Center Stage Won
2001 Tony Award Best Direction of a Musical The Producers Won
Best Choreography Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Won
Outstanding Choreography Won
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Won
Outstanding Choreography Won
2002 Tony Award Best Choreography Oklahoma! Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Choreography Won
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Choreography Won
2008 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Choreography Young Frankenstein Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Nominated
Outstanding Choreographer Nominated
2009 Outstanding Direction of a Musical Happiness Nominated
Outstanding Choreography Nominated
2010 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical The Scottsboro Boys Nominated
Outstanding Choreography Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Direction of a Musical Nominated
Outstanding Choreographer Nominated
2011 Tony Award Best Direction of a Musical Nominated
Best Choreography Nominated
Astaire Award Outstanding Choreographer in a Broadway Show Won
Drama League Award Julia Hansen Award for Excellence in Directing Won
2014 Tony Award Best Choreography Bullets Over Broadway Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical Nominated
Outstanding Choreography Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Choreographer Nominated
Astaire Award Outstanding Choreographer in a Broadway Show Nominated
Big Fish Nominated

Stroman received the Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre for 2018, presented by the York Theatre Company.[35] Other notable awards include Glamour Magazine's Woman of the Year Award[36] (2001), The George Abbott Award for Lifetime Achievement in the American Theater[37] (2002), and the Sackler Center First Award[38] (2012) honoring extraordinary women who are first in their field.

She is a 2002 New York Public Library "Library Lion" inductee[39] for Outstanding Achievement in Art, Culture, Letters and Scholarship and a 2014 inductee into New York City's Theater Hall of Fame.[40]

In 2005 Stroman received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Delaware.[41]

Stage productions[edit]



  1. ^ "Five alumni added to Wall of Fame". 1993.
  2. ^ "George Abbott Award for Lifetime Achievement in the American Theater", accessed January 31, 2020
  3. ^ "Theater Hall of Fame members", accessed January 31, 2020
  4. ^ Gans, Andrew, "Theater Hall of Fame Ceremony, Honoring Susan Stroman, F. Murray Abraham, Philip J. Smith and More, Presented Tonight" Playbill, May 4, 2015
  5. ^ "Susan Stroman Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-01.
  6. ^ "Stroman, Charles Harry". Archived from the original on 26 November 2004. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  7. ^ Lahr, John. Joy Ride, March 24, 2014
  8. ^ Chicago
  9. ^ Susan Stroman Biography, retrieved January 5, 2010
  10. ^ Goodman, Walter. "The Stage: 'Flora, the Red Menace'" The New York Times, December 7, 1987
  11. ^ Liza Stepping Out at Radio City Music Hall imdb
  12. ^ King, Susan."Liza in the Big House : Minnelli's Show From Radio City Shrinks in Size But Not Emotion" Los Angeles Times, December 6, 1992
  13. ^ "Young Frankenstein London Garrick Theatre".
  14. ^ "Young Frankenstein_114179. Theatre shows and tickets".
  15. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Arcelus, Foster, Gleason and More Find Happiness at Lincoln Center Starting Feb. 27", Playbill, February 27, 2009
  16. ^ Hernandez, Ernio. "Stroman Brings New Musical The Scottsboro Boys to Off-Broadway" Archived 2011-06-04 at the Wayback Machine, February 12, 2010
  17. ^ Gardner, Lyn (October 20, 2013). "The Scottsboro Boys review – a dazzling civil rights musical". Retrieved November 29, 2014.
  18. ^ "Winners of 2014 Evening Standard Theatre Awards Include Gillian Anderson, Kate Bush, Tom Hiddleston, the Scottsboro Boys and Here Lies Love". 30 November 2014.
  19. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Prince and Stroman Unveil New Musical Paradise Found in London May 19", May 19, 2010
  20. ^ Gioia, Michael. "Big Fish, With Norbert Leo Butz and Kate Baldwin, Ends Chicago Run May 5; Broadway Is Next" Archived 2013-09-06 at the Wayback Machine,, May 2013
  21. ^ Hetrick, Adam and Gioia, Michael. "Big Fish, Starring Norbert Leo Butz, Ends Broadway Run Dec. 29",, December 29, 2013
  22. ^ "Susan Stroman Will Direct 'Bullets Over Broadway' Musical" The New York Times, 2012
  23. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Complete Casting Announced for New Musical Little Dancer; Susan Stroman Directs at Kennedy Center", Playbill, August 26, 2014
  24. ^ "Marie, Dancing Still". Archived from the original on April 2, 2019.
  25. ^ Gerard, Jeremy. "Pacific Overture: Hal Prince Sets Fall Japan Dates, NY Stars For Broadway Retrospective", deadline, June 17, 2015
  26. ^ Loo, Bonny. "BWW Review: 'Prince Of Broadway' Conquers Audiences in Tokyo and Beyond", October 30, 2015
  27. ^ Clement, Olivia. " Prince of Broadway Will Open on Broadway This Summer" Playbill, December 7, 2016
  28. ^ Dot
  29. ^ The Beast in the Jungle
  30. ^ "The Joe A. Callaway Award". Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation.
  31. ^ Culwell-Block, Logan (March 1, 2022). "Vanessa Williams, Rachel Dratch, Lilli Cooper, More to Star in POTUS On Broadway". Playbill. Retrieved May 13, 2022.
  32. ^ "Double Feature", retrieved January 5, 2010
  33. ^ Press Release Archived 2011-09-27 at the Wayback Machine"Pacific Northwest Ballet", February 6, 2009
  34. ^ "'Curb Your Enthusiasm' Boss Hopeful Larry David Will Return for Another Season". The Hollywood Reporter. 4 December 2017.
  35. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Susan Stroman Honored at Oscar Hammerstein Award Gala, Hosted by Matthew Broderick" Playbill, November 12, 2018
  36. ^ "Susan Stroman honored at Glamour Magazine's "Women of the Year 2001"".
  37. ^ "The "Mr. Abbott" Award | Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation".
  38. ^ "Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art".
  39. ^ "Library Lions: Former Honorees".
  40. ^ "Theater Hall of Fame Ceremony, Honoring Susan Stroman, F. Murray Abraham, Philip J. Smith and More, Presented Tonight". 4 May 2015.
  41. ^ "Susan Stroman receives honorary doctorate". October 31, 2005.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]