Joe Calarco

Joe is a multiple award-winning director and playwright. Off Broadway credits include Patrick Barlow’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol (Drama Desk nomination Best Director), the world premieres of Boy and In Transit (Drama Desk nomination Best Director), at Primary Stages, The Burnt Part Boys and Floyd and Clea Under the Western Sky at Playwrights Horizons, the world premieres of The Summer of the Swans and Sarah, Plain and Tall at the Lucille Lortel for TheaterWorksUSA, the world premiere of The Mistress Cycle for The New York Musical Theatre Festival, the world premiere of Fugitive Songs (Drama Desk Award for Best Musical Revue), and the first New York revival of Bury the Dead and The Memory Show for The Transport Group. He is the adaptor/director of Shakespeare’s R&J, which ran for a year Off-Broadway and earned him a Lucille Lortel Award. He also directed the play’s premieres in Chicago (5 Jeff Award nominations including Best Play and Best Director), Washington, D.C. (Helen Hayes Award nominations for Best Play and Best Director), London (Evening Standard Award nomination Best Director) and Tokyo.

Regionally Joe has won Best Director Barrymore Awards for both Ordinary Days at 11th Hour Theatre Company and The Light in the Piazza at Philadelphia Theatre Company, which garnered a further 6 awards including Best Musical. Other shows at PTC include The Last Five Years (Barrymore Award Best Musical), Elegies (Barrymore nomination Best Director), and M. Butterfly. At Signature Theatre in Arlington Virginia, he has directed Assassins (Helen Hayes Award), the world premiere of Nijinsky’s Last Dance (Helen Hayes Award), Side Show (Helen Hayes Award), Urinetown (Helen Hayes Award), Gypsy (Helen Hayes nomination), God of Carnage, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Flick, John, The Scottsboro Boys, the world premieres of Nest, The Gulf, The Boy Detective Fails, Cake Off, as well as the world premieres of his own plays Walter Cronkite is Dead and In the Absence of Spring which premiered in New York as the inaugural production of Second Stage’s New Plays Uptown series under his own direction. Other regional work includes the world premiere of Lincolnesque as well as The Glass Menagerie at the Old Globe, the world premieres of the musicals The Burnt Part Boys, The Memory Show, and The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (also book writer), as well as Kiss Me Kate, Breaking the Code, Romance in Hard Times, Ragtime, A Doll’s House Part 2, and Into The Woods at Barrington Stage Company where he is an Associate Artist, The Circus in Winter and LMNOP at Goodspeed, the world premiere of Short Order Stories for Charter Theatre in Virginia, the world premiere of The Religion Thing at Theater J in Washington DC, his adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Shakespeare Theatre Company in D.C, and Of Mice and Men and My Fair Lady at the Hangar Theatre. At the O’Neill Musical Theatre Conference he has directed Broadcast, The Toymaker, Sarah Plain and Tall, In Transit, Picnic at Hanging Rock, and The Shadow Sparrow. He directed Sam I Was as part of the Yale Institute for Musical Theater, has directed Sweeney Todd at Carnegie Mellon University, directed Twice Charmed: an original twist on the Cinderella story for Disney Creative Entertainment, and his reworking of Ring of Fire: the music of Johnny Cash toured the U.S for over a year.

As a writer his published work includes in the absence of spring (included in The Best Stage Scenes of 2004), Shakespeare’s R&J (Lucille Lortel Award), Walter Cronkite is Dead (included in The Best Stage Monologues of 2013), his short plays, Just A Little Sniffle and Parting Gifts, two collections of his plays for teens Signature in the Schools Volumes 1&2. His other work for teens includes 295N, Smile Lines, 12 Million Footsteps, The Spoken Word and the just published Winter Break. Other adaptations include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Shakespeare Theater Company), and Antigone Renewed, which had its first workshop at the National Theater in London. Other produced work includes A Measure of Cruelty (Carbonell Award nomination Best New Work and included in The Best Stage Monologues of 2013) at Mosaic Theater, Isolated Incidents, Watershed, and Waiting for Expanded Arts Inc., and Separate Rooms at 4615 Theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland, which is included in the Best Stage Monologues of 2020. He is the book writer for the musicals The Mysteries of Harris Burdick with composer Chris Miller and lyricist Nathan Tysen, which had its West End premiere in conjunction with Mercury Musical Developments in London and its U.S. premier at Barrington Stage Company as part of William Finn’s Musical Theatre Lab, Golden Gate with composer/lyricist Richard Pearson Thomas (developed at Second Stage and Lincoln Center), and he was a contributing book writer of the Drama Desk Award winning The Audience (The Transport Group.) His current work in development includes Authenticated Users: a zoom play for teens, My Name is Rafiq with collaborators Mohamad Alrefai and Kholoud Sawaf at Olney Theater Center, the musical Home Front with composer lyricist Carmel Dean, a blank page rewrite of The Circus in Winter with composer/lyricist Ben Clark, and the screenplay A Rhythmic Me with collaborators Jared Grimes and Mark Meadows.

He served as Director of New Works at the Tony Award winning Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia where he started the SigWorks Monday Night Reading Series, which led to four world premiere productions as well as starting the SigWorks Musical Theater Lab which led to the world premiere of Gun & Powder. He served as resident playwright at Expanded Arts, Inc. for two years and as Resident Director at Barrington Stage Company. He has been a Joseph Papp artist in residence at Second Stage, sat on the Executive Board of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC), is one of New York Theatre Workshop’s “usual suspects,” is a Drama League directing fellow, and is a member of The Dramatists Guild.