Joan Cushing, a former elementary school teacher and cabaret performer, is best known for her political satirical revue Mrs. Foggybottom & Friends, which opened in 1986 at New Playwrights Theatre, and moved to the Omni-Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., where it ran for 10 hit years, and four years on the road, including performances at Don’t Tell Mama and The Triad in NYC. Also in New York, she performed her solo nightclub act Lady Sings the News! at the Ballroom, filling in for Blossom Dearie, appeared in Gary Trudeau’s Tanner for President series on HBO, directed by Robert Altman, and studied musical theatre writing at the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop with Lehman Engel and Maury Yeston.
Her adult musicals include Flush! (1999 Washington Theatre Festival, H.D. Lewis Award) and Tussaud (Winner, 2001 Washington Theatre Festival), writing for the annual Hexagon political revue (since 1976), and The Crystal Palace Revue in Aspen, Colorado. Cushing also penned a political satirical column in Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill: The World According to Mrs. Foggybottom, a high society bat she created to skewer the sacred cows of Washington.
More recently, she has adapted 16 popular children’s books as musicals, receiving over 400 productions and 5 national tours: Miss Nelson Is Missing!, winner of the 2003 Nat’l Children’s Theatre Festival; Junie B. Jones & a Little Monkey Business!; Miss Nelson Has a Field Day!; Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood (2007 NY Musical Theatre Festival); Heidi (w playwright Martha King De Silva); and George & Martha: Tons of Fun, all commissioned by Imagination Stage, Lawrence, commissioned by Gabrielino High School; Brave Irene, commissioned by Adventure Theatre, and Diary of a Worm, a Spider & a Fly,commissioned by Oregon Children’s Theatre. Other theatres which have produced her work include Seattle Children’s Theatre, Childsplay Theatre, Omaha Theatre Co., Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, Dallas Children’s Theatre, Orlando Shakespeare Festival, North Shore Music Theatre, South Coast Repertory, First Stage Milwaukee, Walnut Street Theatre, Stage One Louisville, Nashville Children’s Theatre, Emerald City Theatre, Stages Theatre, Orlando Rep, Manhattan Children’s Theatre, and California Theatre Center. According to TYA Magazine, she is “the most produced playwright in children’s theatre” and Miss Nelson Is Missing! is “the most produced play.”
In 2002 she worked with Young Playwrights Theatre to help turn their play Pieces of Life, written by local middle school students, into a musical, which was performed at the Kennedy Center and toured the D.C. schools. She was also commissioned by Oak Crest High School to write a musical for 100 girls using Broadway songs, Belles Are Ringing!
Favorite works include a brand new script for Tussaud, based on the deliciously gruesome and dark tale of Madame Tussaud; The Christmas Doll, 2007 National Youth Theatre Award for Outstanding Play/Musical, Creative Loafing Nomination for Best Original Show, Outstanding Original Musical, Outstanding Musical Composition, Outstanding Production, adapted from the book by Elvira Woodruff, world premiere, Children’s Theatre of Charlotte; Lizzie Bright & the Buckminster Boy, adapted from the book by Gary D. Schmidt, workshopped at First Stage Milwaukee (New Play Series), Growing Stage Co., and Playwrights Theatre of NJ; andRamana’s Garden based on true stories of children in an orphanage in N. India (with Kathy Carroll). Several new commissions include Breast In Show, produced by Eileen Mitchard w playwright Lisa Hayes and 101 Dalmatians w playwright Martha King de Silva for Imagination Stage, with a double opening at Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. Most recently Cushing wrote two new works for CTC (Children’s Theatre of Charlotte): Ella’s Big Chance: a Jazz Age Cinderella – a retelling of the age old story by beloved London writer Shirley Hughes, set in the Roaring 20’s, with a more empowered heroine and a surprise ending. Ella received its stunning premiere at CTC last season. This past season Cushing was commissioned by CTC to write a musical version of Grace for President, based on the book by popular children’s writer Kelly Di Pucchio. Grace opened in October before the election, with a double opening at Aurora Theatre in Atlanta – two dynamite productions celebrating empowerment, making bold choices, and diversity. Grace opens this coming fall at Raleigh Little Theatre. Ms. Cushing lives in the Nation’s Capital where all the crazy politics happens. Her husband Paul Buchbinder died of pancreatic cancer several years ago, but left her with three beautiful sons and four splendid grandsons. Cushing is represented by the Susan Gurman Agency. See Profile on Facebook.com.