John Simpkins, Head of Musical Theatre, Penn State University

John Simpkins has recently directed the World premieres of Legendale (Denmark’s Fredericia Teater) and Raging Skillet (Theaterworks Hartford – starring Dana Smith-Croll, Marilyn Sokol, George Salazar).  He directed the three-time Drama Desk nominated Off-Broadway production of Bloodsong of Love:  The Rock and Roll Spaghetti Western (by Joe Iconis) at Ars Nova.  He also directed Iconis’ The Black Suits at LA’s Center Theatre Group (Kirk Douglas Theatre – starring Annie Golden, Will Roland, Veronica Dunne).  New York credits include the Off-Broadway productions of The Bus(59E59 Theatre); ReWrite (Urban Stages); The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks (Theatreworks, USA- Lucille Lortel Theatre); Things to Ruin (which he co-conceived and directed productions of at Second Stage, Le Poisson Rouge, Zipper Factory, Joe’s Pub, Ars Nova, NYMF) and The Black Suits (SPF at the Public Theatre – starring Annie Golden, Jason Tam, and Krysta Rodriguez).

Regional productions include Legendale (Human Race Theatre Company – starring Max Crumm); Quartet (starring Elizabeth Franz); The Black Suits (Barrington Stage – starring Ben Platt); Hairspray(North Carolina Theatre – starring Dale Hensley, Dirk Lumbard); Damn Yankees (Engeman Theatre – starring Andre De Sheilds, Felicia Finley); A Wonderful Life (Engeman Theatre); Annie (Sacramento Music Circus- starring Mark Zimmerman, Jim Walton, Adinah Alexander); Cabaret (Sacramento Music Circus- starring Teri Ralston, Jacquelyn Piro, Max von Essen); Evita (Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma- starring Kate Chapman, Eric Michael Gillet, Dan Cooney).

John is the former Artistic Director at Sharon Playhouse – where his direction included Merrily We Roll Along (starring Jason Tam, A.J. Shively, Lauren Marcus); Big River; Falsettos (starring Kyle Barisich); Les Miserables; Judge Jackie (starring Klea Blackhurst); They’re Playing Our Song.  A strong supporter of the development of new work, he has directed workshops/ readings/ productions of Georgie:  The Life and Death of George Rose (starring Ed Dixon); True Love (Sarah Schlesinger/ David Evans); Adam Lives (Goodspeed Opera House); Hellraisers (Barrington Stage); Fantasy Football, the Musical; All the Kids Are Doing It; When the World Ends (Nick Blaemire- Ars Nova); Ripper (NAMT); Party Come Here (David Kirshenbaum/ Daniel Goldfarb); Go-Go Beach (NYMF – 37 Arts); Pool Boy(Tsakalakos/ Allard); Next Thing You Know (Berkshire Theatre Festival); Queen Esther (Merkin Hall); Half Married (Cunningham/ Antin); Plastic! (Maddock/ Iconis/ Jacobs – York Theatre), 29 (Alter/ Newman), Lyrical Langston Hughes (New Triad- Lincoln Center), Blood Drive (Rachel Sheinkin), Beasts and Saints (Mindi Dickstein) and Like You Like It (Buck/ Acquisto).

Prior to joining Penn State, John was a member of the music theatre faculty at New York University – where he directed Sweet Smell of Success, Floyd Collins, A Man of No Importance, The Fix, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Violet, Urinetown, Merrily We Roll Along, Parade, Fiorello! and A New Brain.  His production of Parade was preserved and is on reserve at Lincoln Center’s Theatre on Film and Tape Archive.  He holds a Bachelor of Music from Miami University and a Master of Arts from NYU.


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