Jack O’Brien

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Jack O’Brien (Director)

Jack O’Brien
Born (1939-06-18) June 18, 1939 (age 77)
Saginaw, Michigan, United States
Alma mater University of Michigan
Occupation Director, producer, writer and lyricist
Years active 1965–present

Jack O’Brien (born June 18, 1939) is an American director, producer, writer and lyricist.[1] He served as the Artistic Director of the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California from 1981 through the end of 2007.[2]

O’Brien has won three Tony Awards and been nominated for seven more, and won five Drama Desk Awards. He has directed and produced musicals, including The Full Monty and Hairspray, contemporary dramas such as The Piano Lesson, The Invention of Love and The Coast of Utopia, Shakespeare classics, including Hamlet and Henry IV (a combination of Part 1 and Part 2), and operas, including Il trittico at the Metropolitan Opera.

He has also been associated with some notorious Broadway failures. In 1972, he wrote the lyrics and co-wrote the book for The Selling of the President, which closed after five performances. The Old Globe also co-produced the stage adaptation of Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, which closed after only one performance.

 

Biography

O’Brien was born in Saginaw, Michigan and attended the University of Michigan (M.A. 1962)[3] where he was a member of Delta Tau Delta International Fraternity. He began on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre as assistant director of revivals of You Can’t Take It with You (1965–67) and The Cherry Orchard (1968), and in a number of other shows, also sometimes contributing additional lyrics to songs. He began directing at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California with Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors in 1969.[3]

Early Career

O’Brien first took the director’s chair on Broadway for a revival of Cock-A-Doodle Dandy in 1969. O’Brien wrote the book and lyrics for the short-lived (five performances) The Selling of the President (1972).[4][5] He returned to directing for a revival of The Time of Your Life in 1975 and a revival of Porgy and Bess in 1977, for which he received his first Tony nomination. In the meantime, he directed dozens of Shakespeare plays and other works at the Old Globe, the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre, off-Broadway and elsewhere.[3] In New York, he next directed revivals of The Most Happy Fella (1979) on Broadway[6] and Porgy and Bess (Radio City Music Hall, 1983).

Old Globe Theatre

After becoming Artistic Director of the Old Globe Theatre in 1981, O’Brien continued directing productions there, including a revival of Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth, which was televised live to open the 1983 season of PBS’s “American Playhouse” series, and the world premieres of Stephen Metcalfe’s Emily (1986) and A. R. Gurney’s The Cocktail Hour (1988).[7]

As Artistic Director of the Old Globe, O’Brien co-produced Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods (1987–89), Rumors (1988–90) and the drama The Piano Lesson (1990–91), for which he won his first Drama Desk Award. Returning to directing, O’Brien helmed Two Shakespearean Actors (1992). He co-produced Two Trains Running (1992) and Redwood Curtain (1993). He also directed and produced a revival of Damn Yankees (1994–95), Hapgood (1995, winning the Lucille Lortel Award for Direction), a flop called Getting Away With Murder (1996) and produced Play On! (1997). He next directed a revival of The Little Foxes (1997), a new comedy, More to Love (1998), which closed in three days, and produced Getting and Spending (1998). O’Brien also has occasionally directed for television over the years.

O’Brien had a hit with The Full Monty, which he directed and produced (2000–2002), and critical success with the drama The Invention of Love (2001) for which he won the Drama Desk Award for direction. In 2002, he directed the world premiere of the Nora Ephron play Imaginary Friends, which then transferred to Broadway. That same year he directed Hairspray, which ran on Broadway until January 2009. This marked his first Tony Award win, and he also received another Drama Desk Award. In 2002, he was honored with the prestigious “Mr. Abbott” Award from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation.[7] On Broadway, he next produced two more Old Globe productions, Imaginary Friends (2002–03), which he directed, and the one-performance flop, Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (2003), which he did not. He returned to Shakespeare, directing Henry IV (2003–04), for which he won both the Tony and the Drama Desk Awards, and progressed from the sublime to the ridiculous, directing and producing Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (2005–06). He then produced other works including the Old Globe’s annual musical adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (Christmas 2006–07 and 2007–08).

O’Brien next directed Tom Stoppard’s trilogy of plays The Coast of Utopia (2006–07) at Lincoln Center in New York City, winning both the Tony and Drama Desk Awards. He then he directed Giacomo Puccini’s trilogy of operas Il trittico for the Metropolitan Opera. Other opera productions have included Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse for San Diego Opera, Mozart’s The Magic Flute for the San Francisco Opera, Verdi’s Aida for Houston Grand Opera, Kurt Weill’s Street Scene for New York City Opera, which was televised on “Live from Lincoln Center”, and Puccini’s Tosca for Santa Fe Opera. On television, O’Brien has directed six movies for “American Playhouse”, including An Enemy of the People, I Never Sang For My Father, All My Sons, and Painting Churches.[8] His Broadway revival of Most Happy Fella and staging of The Good Doctor were produced for PBS.[2]

O’Brien’s latest directoral efforts at the Old Globe include Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Chekhov’s The Seagull, in a new version by Stoppard, and Brendan Behan’s The Hostage. In stepping down as Artistic Director of the Old Globe Theatre at the end of 2007, O’Brien said, ” ‘I consider myself truly blessed to have been able to enjoy such a full and varied career at the Globe. I have had the enviable opportunity to direct everything from Shakespeare to new American works to Broadway-bound musicals, all under the supportive and watchful eye of an enthusiastic San Diego community.’ “[7]

Recent and Planned Projects

He is expected to be the director of a new stage musical on Harry Houdini, produced by Scott Sanders and David Rockwell with the music being composed by Stephen Schwartz. Original star Hugh Jackman dropped out of the project in December 2013. Plans for a reading in December 2013 with out-of-town tryouts and then a Broadway premiere are presumably on hold; the musical was aiming for the 2015–16 Broadway season.[9][10]

He directed several workshops of the musical adaptation of Catch Me if You Can, working together with Jerry Mitchell, who has choreographed many of O’Brien’s musicals. The Broadway production opened in April 2011.[11][12]

He is also director of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies, which opened in London on March 9, 2010.[13]

In 2009 he directed the premiere of the Michael Jacobs play Impressionism at the Schoenfeld Theatre, starring Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen.[14] He served as the director for the 2015-16 North American tour of The Sound of Music.[15] O’Brien will direct the Broadway production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which is set to open on Broadway in 2017.[16]

Awards and Nominations

Awards

  • 1990 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play – The Piano Lesson
  • 2001 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play – The Invention of Love
  • 2003 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical – Hairspray
  • 2003 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical – Hairspray
  • 2004 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play – Henry IV
  • 2004 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play – Henry IV
  • 2007 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play – The Coast of Utopia
  • 2007 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play – The Coast of Utopia
  • 2007 Induction into the American Theater Hall of Fame [17]

Nominations

  • 1977 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical – Porgy and Bess
  • 1977 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical – Porgy and Bess
  • 1989 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play – The Cocktail Hour
  • 1990 Tony Award for Best Play – The Piano Lesson
  • 1992 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play – Two Shakespearean Actors
  • 1992 Tony Award for Best Play – Two Trains Running
  • 2001 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical – The Full Monty
  • 2001 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical – The Full Monty
  • 2001 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play – The Invention of Love
  • 2005 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical – Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Broadway Work

Productions and Date of Productions
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – [Musical, Original] – Director – Apr 23, 2017 – ?
The Front Page – [Play, Comedy, Revival] – Directed by Jack O’Brien – Oct 20, 2016 – Jan 29, 2017
It’s Only a Play – [Play, Comedy, Original] – Directed by Jack O’Brien – Oct 09, 2014 – Jun 07, 2015
Macbeth – [Play, Tragedy, Revival]- Directed by Jack O’Brien – Nov 21, 2013 – Jan 12, 2014
The Nance – [Play, Drama, Original] – Directed by Jack O’Brien – Apr 15, 2013 – Aug 11, 2013
Dead Accounts – [Play, Comedy, Original] – Directed by Jack O’Brien – Nov 29, 2012 – Jan 06, 2013
Catch Me If You Can – [Musical, Comedy, Original] – Directed by Jack O’Brien – Apr 10, 2011 – Sep 04, 2011
Impressionism – [Play, Drama, Original] – Directed by Jack O’Brien – Mar 24, 2009 – May 10, 2009
A Catered Affair – [Musical, Original] – Old Globe Theatre (Jack O’Brien, Artistic Director; Louis G. Spisto, Executive Director)
Apr 17, 2008 – Jul 27, 2008
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!- [Musical, Comedy, Original]- Based on the production produced at Old Globe Theatre (Jack O’Brien, Artistic Director; Louis G. Spisto, Executive Director)
Original Production Conceived and Directed by Jack O’Brien – Nov 09, 2007 – Jan 06, 2008
The Coast of Utopia [Part 3 – Salvage] – [Play, Original] – Directed by Jack O’Brien – Feb 18, 2007 – May 13, 2007
The Coast of Utopia [Part 2 – Shipwreck] – [Play, Original] – Directed by Jack O’Brien – Dec 21, 2006 – May 12, 2007
The Coast of Utopia [Part 1 – Voyage] – [Play, Original] – Directed by Jack O’Brien – Nov 27, 2006 – May 12, 2007
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!- [Musical, Comedy, Original] – Production Created and Supervised by Jack O’Brien
Based on the production produced at the Old Globe Theatre (Jack O’Brien, Artistic Director; Louis G. Spisto, Executive Director)
Nov 08, 2006 – Jan 07, 2007
The Times They Are A-Changin’- [Musical, Dance, Original] – World Premiere at Old Globe Theatre (Jack O’Brien, Artistic Director; Louis G. Spisto, Executive Director)
Oct 26, 2006 – Nov 19, 2006
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – [Musical, Comedy, Original] – Directed by Jack O’Brien
World Premiere at the Old Globe Theatre (Jack O’Brien, Artistic Director; Louis G. Spisto, Executive Director)
Mar 03, 2005 – Sep 03, 2006
Henry IV – [Play, History, Revival] – Directed by Jack O’Brien – Nov 20, 2003 – Jan 18, 2004
Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All – [Play, Solo, Original] – Originally produced by Old Globe Theatre (Jack O’Brien, Artistic Director; Louis G. Spisto, Executive Director)
Nov 17, 2003 – Nov 17, 2003
Imaginary Friends – [Play, Play with music, Original] – Directed by Jack O’Brien
Originally produced by The Globe Theatres (Jack O’Brien: Artistic Director; Louis G. Spisto: Executive Director)
Dec 12, 2002 – Feb 16, 2003
Hairspray – [Musical, Comedy, Original] – Directed by Jack O’Brien – Aug 15, 2002 – Jan 04, 2009
The Invention of Love – [Play, Drama, Original] – Directed by Jack O’Brien – Mar 29, 2001 – Jun 30, 2001
The Full Monty – [Musical, Comedy, Original] – Directed by Jack O’Brien
World premiere at Old Globe Theatre (Jack O’Brien, Artistic Director; Douglas C. Evans, Managing Director; Craig Noel, Executive Director)
Oct 26, 2000 – Sep 01, 2002
Getting and Spending – [Play, Original] – World Premiere at Old Globe Theatre (Jack O’Brien, Artistic Director; Thomas Hall, Managing Director)
Oct 25, 1998 – Nov 29, 1998
More to Love – [Play, Comedy, Original] – Directed by Jack O’Brien – Oct 15, 1998 – Oct 17, 1998
The Little Foxes – [Play, Drama, Revival] – Directed by Jack O’Brien – Apr 27, 1997 – Jun 15, 1997
Play On!- [Musical, Original] – Originally produced by Old Globe Theatre (Jack O’Brien, Artistic Director; Thomas Hall, Managing Director)
Mar 20, 1997 – May 11, 1997
Getting Away With Murder – [Play, Comedy, Thriller, Original] – Directed by Jack O’Brien
World premiere at Old Globe Theatre (Jack O’Brien, Artistic Director; Thomas Hall, Managing Director)
Mar 17, 1996 – Mar 31, 1996
Damn Yankees – [Musical, Comedy, Revival] – Directed by Jack O’Brien – Originally produced by Old Globe Theatre (Jack O’Brien, Artistic Director; Thomas Hall, Managing Director)
Book revisions by Jack O’Brien
Mar 03, 1994 – Aug 06, 1995
Redwood Curtain – [Play, Drama, Original] – Also presented by Old Globe Theatre (Jack O’Brien, Artistic Director; Thomas Hall, Managing Director)
Mar 30, 1993 – May 02, 1993
Two Trains Running – [Play, Original] – Produced in association with Old Globe Theatre (Jack O’Brien, Artistic Director; Thomas Hall, Managing Director)
Apr 13, 1992 – Aug 30, 1992
Two Shakespearean Actors – [Play, Original] – Directed by Jack O’Brien – Jan 16, 1992 – Feb 09, 1992
The Piano Lesson – [Play, Original] – Produced in association with Old Globe Theatre (Jack O’Brien, Artistic Director; Thomas Hall, Managing Director)
Apr 16, 1990 – Jan 27, 1991
Rumors – [Play, Comedy, Farce, Original] – Originally produced by the Old Globe Theatre (Jack O’Brien, Artistic Director; Thomas Hall, Managing Director)
Nov 17, 1988 – Feb 24, 1990
Into the Woods – [Musical, Comedy, Drama, Original] – Originally produced by Old Globe Theatre (Jack O’Brien, Artistic Director; Thomas Hall, Managing Director)
Nov 05, 1987 – Sep 03, 1989
Porgy and Bess – [Musical, Opera, Revival] – Directed by Jack O’Brien – Apr 07, 1983 – May 15, 1983
The Most Happy Fella – [Musical, Comedy, Revival] – Directed by Jack O’Brien – Oct 11, 1979 – Nov 25, 1979
Porgy and Bess – [Musical, Opera, Revival] – Directed by Jack O’Brien – Sep 25, 1976 – Jan 09, 1977
The Time of Your Life – [Play, Comedy, Revival] – Directed by Jack O’Brien – Oct 28, 1975 – Nov 01, 1975
The Selling of the President – [Musical, Original] – Book by Jack O’Brien – Lyrics by Jack O’Brien
Mar 22, 1972 – Mar 25, 1972
Hamlet – [Play, Tragedy, Revival] – Assistant Directed by Jack O’Brien – Mar 03, 1969 – Apr 26, 1969
Cock-A-Doodle Dandy – [Play, Revival] – Directed by Jack O’Brien – Jan 20, 1969 – Apr 26, 1969
The Cocktail Party – [Play, Drama, Revival] – Assistant Directed by Jack O’Brien – Oct 07, 1968 – Apr 26, 1969
Pantagleize – [Play, Comedy, Original] – Assistant Directed by Jack O’Brien – Incidental lyrics by Jack O’Brien
Sep 03, 1968 – Sep 12, 1968
The Cherry Orchard [Play, Comedy, Revival]- Assistant Directed by Jack O’Brien – Mar 19, 1968 – Jun 22, 1968
Pantagleize – [Play, Comedy, Original] – Assistant Directed by Jack O’Brien – Nov 30, 1967 – Jun 22, 1968
War and Peace – [Play, Original] – Assistant Directed by Jack O’Brien – Mar 21, 1967 – Jun 17, 1967
You Can’t Take It With You – [Play, Comedy, Farce, Revival] – Assistant Directed by Jack O’Brien – Feb 10, 1967 – Feb 1967
You Can’t Take It With You – [Play, Comedy, Farce, Revival] – Assistant to Mr. Rabb: Jack O’Brien – Nov 23, 1965 – Jun 18, 1966
Miracle in the Mountains – [Play, Original] – Performer: Jack O’Brien [Member of Elder Council] – Apr 25, 1947 – Apr 26, 1947

References

  1. ^ John Fleming (November 13, 2006). “Jack of all genres”. St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved May 21, 2008.
  2. ^ a b Biography of O’Brien at the American Theatre Wing
  3. ^ a b c Jack O’Brien profile at Broadway.com
  4. ^ Suskin, Steven. “THE BOOK SHELF: ‘Jack Be Nimble’ by Jack O’Brien” playbill.com, June 18, 2013
  5. ^ “‘The Selling of the President’ Listing” ibdb.com, accessed August 30, 2013
  6. ^ “‘The Most Happy Fella’ Listing” ibdb.com, accessed August 30, 2013
  7. ^ a b c “The Old Globe Announces the Reorganization of its Leadership Team” (PDF) (Press release). Old Globe Theatre. December 6, 2007. Retrieved May 21, 2008.
  8. ^ Playbill Staff (2008). “Playbill Biography: Jack O’Brien”. Playbill. Retrieved May 21, 2008.
  9. ^ Hetrick, Adam. “Houdini Musical, Starring Hugh Jackman, May Have Chicago Premiere Prior to Broadway” playbill.com, August 29, 2013
  10. ^ Gioia, Michael and Hetrick, Adam. “Tony Winner Hugh Jackman Exits Broadway-Aimed ‘Houdini’ Musical” Archived December 24, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. playbill.com, December 23, 2013
  11. ^ ” ‘Catch Me If You Can’ Briefly Delays Start of Broadway Previews” playbill.com
  12. ^ ” ‘Catch Me If You Can’ Books Broadway’s Neil Simon Theatre Archived September 26, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. playbill.com
  13. ^ “Lloyd Webber’s ‘Love Never Dies’ Will Likely Undergo Changes Prior to Broadway” playbill.com
  14. ^ “Impressionism, Starring Irons and Allen, to Play the Schoenfeld Theatre”. Broadway.com. Key Brand Entertainment. November 19, 2008. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  15. ^ “New National Tour of The Sound of Music, Directed by Jack O’Brien, to Launch This Fall”, Broadwayworld, retrieved 17 March 2016
  16. ^ BWW News Desk. “Broadway’s Got the Golden Ticket! Jack O’Brien-Helmed CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY Will Arrive in Spring 2017”. BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2016-03-17.
  17. ^ “Hall of Fame: theater veterans get a night in limelight”. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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