Christopher Ashley

Theater

Christopher Ashley

Princess Grace Award:
Theater Apprenticeship, 1989

Princess Grace Statue Award:
1998

After completing The Drama League's director's training program in 1987, Christopher Ashley served as assistant to Evan Yionoulis on Richard Greenberg's one-act "The Author's Voice" which was presented as part of Marathon '87 at the Ensemble Theatre Studio. He graduated to full-fledged stager with the 1989 Off-Broadway play "The Night Hank Williams Died" and then garnered notice directing Anna Deavere Smith in her one-person, multi-character drama "Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Other Identities" at the New York Shakespeare Festival's Public Theater. Ashley hit his stride in 1993 teaming with comic writer Paul Rudnick on "Jeffrey", a timely examination of homosexual love in the era of AIDS which proved to be an Off-Broadway hit, and staging Claudia Shear's acclaimed autobiographical one-woman show "Blown Sideways Through Life". (Two years later, he would segue to other media recreating his efforts with the feature version of the former and the PBS television adaptation of the latter.)

Now an established presence in New York theater, Ashley remained busy throughout the remainder of the decade, reteaming with Rudnick to stage the playwright's comedies "The Naked Truth" in 1994, a Chicago production of "I Hate Hamlet" in 1995 and the 1999 Off-Broadway comedy "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told". The director quickly became known for his fluid stagings and his extraordinary capabilities with actors. He enjoyed a success with "Bunny Bunny", playwright Alan Zweibel's memoir of his friendship with the late comedienne Gilda Radner in 1996 and branched out into musicals with "Lucky in the Rain" at the Goodspeed Opera House in 1997, the Encores! concert version of "Li'l Abner" in 1998 and the Drama Dept.'s revival of the Irving Berlin revue "As Thousands Cheer" (also 1998). Following an acclaimed production of Alan Ayckbourn's comedy-drama "Communicating Doors" (1998, with a stellar leading turn by Mary-Louise Parker), Ashley made his Broadway debut with the less successful thriller "Voices in the Dark" in 1999. A throwback to the melodramas of the 1950s (along the lines of "Sorry, Wrong Number" and "Dial M for Murder", John Pielmeier's play failed to impress critics or audiences and was a rare misstep for the director. He bounced back with the Drama Dept.'s production of Douglas Carter Beane's comedy "The Country Club", which earned good notices. In 2000, Ashley returned to the Great White Way at the helm of the revival of the camp classic "The Rocky Horror Show", which featured an eclectic cast ranging from Dick Cavett and Joan Jett to Broadway veterans Tom Hewitt and Daphne Rubin-Vega.

Also Credited As:
Chris Ashley
Born:
July 6, 1964 in Chicago, Illinois, USA
Job Titles:
Director, Script reader
 

Education Yale University, New Haven, CT, English and math, 1986

Milestones 1987 Served as assistant director on Richard Greenberg s one-act The Author s Voice ; starred Patricia Clarkson, Kevin Bacon and David Hyde Pierce 1989 Made solo directing debut with the off-Broadway play The Night Hank Williams Died 1989 Staged the campy musical Buzzsaw Berkeley ; also co-conceived show with Doug Wright 1992 Directed Anna Deveare Smith s one-person, multi-character drama Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Other Identities at the New York Shakespeare Festival s Public Theater 1993 Enjoyed popular success teaming with comic writer Paul Rudnick for the off-Broadway hit Jeffrey 1993 Named artistic associate at the New York Theatre Workshop 1993 Staged Claudia Shear s autobiographical one-person show Blown Sideways Through Life 1994 Helmed the off-Broadway musical spoof Das Barbecu 1994 Re-teamed with Rudnick as director of the stage comedy The Naked Truth 1995 Feature film directorial debut, Jeffrey 1995 TV directorial debut, the PBS adaptation of Shear s Blown Sideways Through Life 1995 Third teaming with Rudnick, the Chicago production of I Hate Hamlet 1996 Directed Alan Zweibel s autobiographical play Bunny Bunny, about his relationship with comedienne Gilda Radner; premiered in Philadelphia and then moved Off-Broadway 1997 Staged the musical Lucky in the Rain at Goodspeed Opera House 1998 Directed the Encores! concert staging of Li l Abner 1998 Garnered praise for the off-Broadway staging of Alan Ayckbourn s Communicating Doors, starring Mary-Louise Parker 1999 Made his Broadway directing debut with Voices in the Dark ; also directed the 1998 premiere at George Street Playhouse in New Jersey 1999 Re-teamed with Rudnick for the comedy The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told 2000 First Broadway musical as director, the revival of The Rocky Horror Show ; earned first Tony Award nomination 2000 Staged the American premiere of What You Get and What You Expect at the New York Theater Workshop 2001 Re-teamed with Paul Rudnick as director of Rude Entertainment 2002 Directed Michele Lowe s The Smell of the Kill on Broadway 2002 Directed the Kennedy Center revival of Sweeney Todd 2002 Directed the national tour of Seussical 2004 Again teamed with Rudnick for the off-Broadway play Valhalla 2005 Helmed the Broadway debut of the Elvis musical All Shook Up 2007 Directed the Broadway musical spoof Xanadu ; based on the infamous 1980 roller-disco movie, starring Olivia Newton-John 2009 Directed the Broadway musical Memphis, which is loosely based on Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips, one of the first white DJs to play black music in the 1950s; earned second Tony Award nomination

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