History

The mission of Theatreworks USA is to create, produce, and provide access to professional theatre for young and family audiences nationwide, including disadvantaged youth and under-served communities. Since our founding in 1961, we have presented more than 90 million children and their families with opportunities to enjoy our theatrical productions in 49 states and Canada.

Each season, three million children, many of whom have no other access to the performing arts, attend our original productions in venues as varied as local elementary school gymnasiums, regional fine arts centers, and major Broadway-sized theatres. Theatreworks USA tours approximately 16 shows each season from our repertoire of 133 plays and musicals. In addition, Theatreworks USA has an extensive multi-cultural roster of guest artists, including storytellers, puppeteers, poets, and magicians. The overarching goals of Theatreworks' programs are to: 

  • Create literary- and historically-based shows that stimulate reading and discussion on the cultural, historical, and/or social issues and themes represented in each show.
  • Foster and nurture the wealth of talent that exists in young writers.
  • Encourage young people to tap into their own reservoirs of creativity and talent.
  • Present role models and encourage positive values through the shows' content.
  • Enhance the theatre experience which children share with their friends and classmates, teachers, and families.Develop a life-long appreciation for the arts.
  • Build the audiences of the future.

THEATREWORKS USA’s  PROGRAMS

 

Theatreworks manages school-time field trip programs in 85 venues in 82 cities across the country. Teachers call our New York box office to purchase low-cost tickets for their class.  We serve major cities where children cannot afford to take advantage the cultural offerings in their hometowns. 

Theatreworks USA representatives attend arts conferences and showcases throughout the year to meet with performing arts administrators, school districts, and arts councils who purchase Theatreworks shows for their audiences. Tickets to National Touring productions are sold and/or distributed by the individual presenter. Performances may take place during school days, evenings, or even on weekends for an experience the entire family can enjoy.


By special arrangement with the Lucille Lortel Theatre Foundation, Theatreworks USA invites 15,000 New York City area students, teachers, and families to 50 free performances of an Off-Broadway production during July and August.  Most tickets are distributed to over 150 social service agencies and summer school programs, including New York City’s Department of Youth and Community Development. This worthy program is entirely underwritten by charitable donations from individuals, foundation, government agencies & leading corporate support from Con Edison. 

  • EARLY STAGES

Offers free tickets for school groups that cannot afford to attend performances at any cost.  Theatreworks USA annually distributes approximately 40,000 free tickets each season.

 

  • NEW WORKS DEVELOPMENT

Each season Theatreworks commissions, creates, and produces 2 -4 new productions with a current repertoire of 133 original plays and musicals. New Works Development also helps emerging artists develop and debut professional productions on a New York City stage.

 

NOTED ALUMNI -  Theatreworks USA has a distinguished history of not only providing young audiences with their first taste of the performing arts, but also giving young actors, writers, directors, and designers an early opportunity to work in this field. A list of our alumni reads like a veritable "who's who" of theatre: four-time Tony-winning director Jerry Zaks, Robert Jess Roth (Beauty and the Beast), Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening), Gabriel Barre (The Wild Party); writers Marta Kauffman and David Crane (TV's "Friends"), Lynn Ahrens and Steven Flaherty (Ragtime, Once on This Island), Jason Robert Brown (Parade), Larry O'Keefe  & Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde), Two Time-Tony Award winner Robert Lopez (Book of Mormon, Avenue Q); Tony nominee Charles Busch (The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife) Kevin Del Aguila (Altar Boyz); and Tony-winning actors Roger Bart, Chuck Cooper, and John Glover. Esteemed performers F. Murray Abraham, Henry Winkler (Happy Days), Colman Domingo (The Scottsboro Boys), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family) and Judy Kuhn (Les Miserables) and many other actors also got their start with Theatreworks.

 

Under the direction of Barbara Pasternack (Artistic Director) and Ken Arthur (Producing Director), TheatreworksUSA is also one of the most honored theatres of our kind. We are the only children's theatre to receive both a Drama Desk and a Lucille Lortel Award. In addition, Theatreworks USA was the recipient of a 2001 Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Award, and in May 2000, The Actors Fund of American bestowed its Medal of Honor upon our founders, Jay Harnick and Charles Hull.

Theatreworks USA's goal is to continue doing what we have successfully accomplished for more than fifty years: giving America's children their first thrilling day at the theatre!

Awards, Honors and Recognition for Theatreworks USA

Theatreworks USA Staff/Board

Complete Repertoire