Susan Stroman

Choreographer, Director, Dancer
One of Broadway's brightest lights in the new millennium, innovative choreographer Susan Stroman made a smashing entrance to the directing ranks with the original dance drama "Contact" (which she co-created) and the ... Read more »
Born: 10/17/1954 in Wilmington, Delaware, USA

Filmography

Actor (4)

Curb Your Enthusiasm 2004 (Tv Show)

Actor

The First Ten Awards: Tony 2001 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

Broadway '97: Launching the Tonys 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Interviewee
Producer (2)

The 32nd Annual Kennedy Center Honors 2009 - 2010 (TV Show)

Co-Producer

The Gershwins' "Crazy For You" 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Producer
Director (1)

The Producers 2005 (Movie)

(Director)
other (1)

Crazy For You (Movie)

(Choreography)
Other (8)

The Producers 2005 (Movie)

(Choreographer)

Evening at Pops 1969 - 2002 (TV Show)

Choreographer

Center Stage 2000 (Movie)

choreography (Choreographer)

You've Got Mail 1998 (Movie)

choreography (Choreographer)

Liza Minnelli Live! From Radio City Music Hall 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Choreographer

A Little Night Music 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Choreographer

A Christmas Carol: The Musical (TV Show)

Choreographer

Biography

One of Broadway's brightest lights in the new millennium, innovative choreographer Susan Stroman made a smashing entrance to the directing ranks with the original dance drama "Contact" (which she co-created) and the revival of "The Music Man" both premiering to raves on the Great White Way in the spring of 2000. Receiving four Tony nods for directing and choreographing the two shows, she joined Michael John LaChuisa (who also garnered four nominations that year for the books and scores of "The Wild Party" and "Marie Christine") as the first quadruple honorees since Elizabeth Swados in 1978. Exposed to show tunes by her piano-playing salesman father, Stroman acted in community theater in her home town of Wilmington, Delaware but really got the bug when a touring version of "Seesaw" came to the Wilmington Playhouse with Tommy Tune in clogs leading a chorus line of girls festooned with balloons. Inspired by the combination of a "great love story" and lots of choreography, she moved to New York and toured in the original productions of Bob Fosse's "Chicago" and the revue "Sugar Babies".

Stroman's first big break came when director Scott Ellis hired her to choreograph the Off-Broadway revival of Kander and Ebb's "Flora, the Red Menace" (1987). Director Harold Prince saw her work and tapped her to provide the dances for his New York City opera production of "Don Giovanni". After reteaming with Ellis for both the New York City Opera's "A Little Night Music" (1990), telecast as part of "Live at Lincoln Center" (PBS), and the Kander and Ebb Off-Broadway review "And the World Goes 'Round" (1991), which she also co-conceived, she collaborated with director (and future husband) Mike Ockrent on "Crazy for You" (1992), winning her first Tony for Choreography. Stroman received an Emmy nomination for choreographing "Liza Minnelli Live! From Radio City Music Hall" (PBS, 1992), co-conceived and choreographed the Emmy-nominated "Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall" (PBS, 1993), and provided the Tony-winning choreography for the triumphant revival of "Show Boat" (1994), directed by Prince. She also created the dances for the Broadway revival of William Inge's "Picnic" that year.

Stroman experienced back-to-back Broadway failures with "Big" (1996), the misfired adaptation of the popular Penny Marshall feature starring Tom Hanks, and Kander and Ebb's "Steel Pier" (1997), reuniting with Ockrent on the former and Scott Ellis on the latter. However, Lincoln Center's artistic director Andre Bishop, responding positively to the dancing and poetry of "Steel Pier", told her if she had an idea for a show, he would help develop it. Stroman called John Weidman, who had written the book for "Big", and the two began working on what would become the steamy, three-part dance play "Contact". Meanwhile, she scored a major coup as choreographer of Trevor Nunn's revival of "Oklahoma!" (1998) at London's National Theatre. Receiving permission from the respective estates to break with tradition (as she would later do for "The Music Man"), she courageously replaced Agnes de Mille's historic choreography at the close of Act I, stamping her own signature on the ballet by having the three principals (not their alternate fantasy selves) perform it. Michael Coveny of The Daily Mail called her choreography "perhaps the biggest star of the night."

"Contact" was a delight at Lincoln Center's Mitzi Newhouse Theater when it opened in the fall of 1999, and it made a terrific transformation upstairs to the Broadway house in 2000 (where it was reclassified as a musical). The larger Vivian Beaumont Theater freed the dancers emotionally, as well as physically, and made a much more suitable home for the marriage of Stroman's exuberant and witty choreography with Weidman's equally funny and touching words. If the choreography was an afterthought when "The Music Man" first opened in 1957, her version was a tour de force of dance. Resisting the pressure to put a "big star" in the role of consummate con man Harold Hill, she went with relative no-name Craig Bierko (in his Broadway debut) who proved more than up to the task. Yet, in the midst of bringing two shows to Broadway, Ockrent, with whom she had also collaborated annually on Madison Square Garden's "A Christmas Carol", lost his battle to leukemia, and the death of her husband stole much of the sweetness from Stroman's greatest hour as a professional. She also provided choreography for Nicholas Hytner's feature dance drama "Center Stage" (2000), including a climactic number that A.O. Scott in The New York Times called "sexy and infectious".

Stepping in for her late husband, Stroman assumed the reins of the stage musical adaptation of "The Producers", based on the Mel Brooks comedy. From its opening in Chicago, the musical earned sterling reviews and had audiences guffawing in the aisles. Stroman's fluid direction and signature choreographic touches merely enhanced the hilarity inherent in the script and songs and the show proved to be a triumph on Broadway, earning a record 12 Tony Awards, including those for direction and choreography. When it was decided that the movie-turned-musical would next go full circle back to the big screen, Stroman was chosen to helm the 2005 film, which starred Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, the actors who made the Broadway version such a smash, as well as Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell.

Relationships

Mike Ockrent

Husband
Married in 1995 Died on Dec. 2, 1999 at age 53 of acute leukemia

Charles Stroman

Father
Born in 1916

Frances Stroman

Mother
Born on July 9, 1918 Died in April 1992, shortly after celebrating 50 years of marriage to her husband

EDUCATION

University of Delaware

Newark , Delaware
Dropped out in 1975 to pursue career

Milestones

2010

Directed and choreographed the Broadway musical, "The Scottsboro Boys"

2007

Collaborated with Brooks again, as director and choreographer of the musical, "Young Frankenstein"

2005

Directed Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane in the feature adaptation of the successful Broadway musical, "The Producers"

2002

Recreated her acclaimed choreography for the Trevor Nunn-directed revival of "Oklahoma!" on Broadway

2001

Directed and choreographed "Thou Shalt Not," with music by Harry Connick Jr.

2001

Directed and choreographed Mel Brooks' musical adaptation of "The Producers"

2000

Choreographed Nicholas Hytner's feature dance drama, "Center Stage"

2000

Directed and choreographed a revival of "The Music Man"

1999

Co-authored and choreographed the three-part dance play "Contact" at Lincoln Center's Mitzi Newhouse Theater; made her directing debut when the show moved to Broadway in 2000

1998

Choreographed Trevor Nunn's revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!" for London's National Theatre

1997

Choreographed Kander and Ebb's "Steel Pier"

1997

Created "Gershwin Graham" for the Martha Graham Dance Company

1996

Teamed with Mike Ockrent for Broadway's musical adaptation of "Big"

1994

Created the dances for the Broadway revival of William Inge's "Picnic"

1994

Choreographed Harold Prince's revival of "Show Boat"

1994

Choreographed the annual production of "A Christmas Carol" at Madison Square Garden's Paramount Theater

1993

Co-conceived and choreographed "Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall" (aired on PBS)

1992

Choreographed "Liza Minnelli Live! From Radio City Music Hall" (aired on PBS)

1991

Re-teamed with Ellis for "And the World Goes 'Round"; co-conceived project, as well as provided choreography

1990

Re-teamed with Prince to choreograph the initial staging of "Kiss of the Spider Woman" at New Musicals

1989

Choreographed Harold Prince's New York City Opera production of "Don Giovanni"

1987

First big break as a choreographer came when director Scott Ellis hired her for his off-Broadway revival of "Flora the Red Menace"

1987

Choreographed the regional theater production of "Sayonara"

1983

Featured as a dancer in "Peter Pan"

1979

Made her Broadway debut as an ensemble member in "Whoopee!"

1977

Joined the national tour of Bob Fosse's "Chicago"

1977

First professional appearance was in a revival of Vincent Youmans' "Hit the Deck!" at the Goodspeed Opera House

Bonus Trivia

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Formed a nightclub act with fellow dancer Jeff Vezey; performed on and off throughout the 1980s until Vezey's 1989 death from complications from AIDS.

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