Spotlight On: WorkShop Theatre Co. 

Christopher Borg 

WorkShop Theatre Company has maintained a high profile in the New York indie theatre scene for several years, with a long list of IT Award Nominees and Recipients:

In 2010, Elyse Mirto was nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role for Next year in Jerusalem.

In 2011, their production of The Navigator took home IT Awards for Outstanding Director  (Leslie Kincaid Burby) and Lighting Design (Duane Pagano) and nominations for Outstanding Actress in a Featured Role (Nicole Taylor), Actress in a Lead Role (Kelly Anne Burns), Set Design (Duane Pagano) Sound Design (Quentin Chiappetta), Full-Length Script (Eddie Antar) and Outstanding Production of a Play.  In addition, Jeff Paul was nominated for Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role for their production of Interchange.

And in 2012 they received nominations for Outstanding Solo Performance (Greg Oliver Bodine) and Lighting Design (Richard Kent Green)  and Outstanding Revival of a Play for Poe, Times Two.  That same year The Navigator  received two Drama Desk nominations, for Best Leading Actor (James Franchini) and Best Sound Design (Quentin Chiappetta/mediaNoise).

The roots of the company date back to 1994 when Sam Schacht, Michelle Bouchard and James DeMarse gathered an informal collective of theater artists to read new plays. Meetings lead to productions of projects created by their company of artists as well as established playwrights. They formed a Board of Directors in 1997 (advised by Jerry Stiller, Anne Meara, Israel Horovitz and Joy Behar, no less) and refined the process through which they developed projects.  In 2002, the company moved into their home in what is now known as "The Theater Building" on 36th Street, housing two performance spaces, pioneering the Off-Off Broadway scene in the Garment District and taking the name WorkShop Theater Company.

WorkShop's mission to cultivate and develop new works has lead to a long list of successful productions and critical acclaim.  At the same time, they have provided a creative home for a diverse group of over 170 professional playwrights, actors and directors who are given tools of a robust development process to help bring their works to life.  Along the way, artists enjoy writers' feed-back nights, readings with audience response, staged readings, short runs and fully-staged productions.

Today, plays developed at WorkShop are produced nationally and internationally. In 2004, the film "Finding Neverland", based on Allan Knee's play "The Man Who Was Peter Pan" (produced in WorkShop's earlier incarnation in 1998), earned two WorkShop members Oscar nominations!

Currently at WorkShop, audiences have several productions to choose from:

Currently playing through March 9th on the WorkShop's Main Stage is Lighting from Heaven by Scott Sickles, about the poet Boris Pasternak and his muse, Olga Ivinskaya, the woman who was the inspiration for the character Lara in the novel (and the film) "Dr. Zhivago" and their conflict with the government that tried to suppress their story.

Simultaneously, they are producing the family musical My Mom is Trying to Ruin My Life based on the acclaimed Simon & Schuster picture book by Kate Feiffer, following the pain of young Emma who's mother is a supreme embarrassment and performed by a cast that includes about a dozen Broadway performers and features a score by an Emmy award winning music team.

And in their smaller Jewel Box Theatre, their current Staged Readings series features Daughters of the Sexual Revolution by Dana Leslie Goldstein and directed by Stefanie Sertich in a weekend beginning February 28, 3013.

For more information about these productions and for more information about WorkShop, check out their website.


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