full bio


Steve Umberger has directed, produced, and developed plays and film/video projects for many companies including People’s Light & Theatre (Philadelphia), Florida Studio Theatre, Barter Theatre, Appalachian Summer Festival, Flat Rock Playhouse, Cape Fear Regional, Blowing Rock Stage, Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Riverside Theatre (FL), N.C. Shakespeare Festival, Spirit Square Arts Center, Children's Theatre of Charlotte (Artistic Director), Festival Stage (Creative Director), and Charlotte Rep (LORT; Founder and Artistic Director). His work includes many premieres, among them The Ghostman by Wendy Hammond, Boca by Christopher Kyle, Benedictions by Judy Simpson CookAnita Bryant Died For Your Sins by Brian Christopher Williams, Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily by Katie Forgette (published by Playscripts), Signature by Beth Henley and The Deer and the Antelope Play by Mark Dunn (both published by Dramatists Play Service).


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Playworks: Umberger formed The Playworks Group LLC to develop and produce work for stage and film. The musical Lunch at the Piccadilly, based on Clyde Edgerton's best selling novel, was a decade long project which Umberger directed in four productions and a concert version at the York Theatre Company in N.Y. Playworks has produced and toured plays including premieres and film/video projects. Recent credits include The Christians by Lucas Hnath. The Playworks series in development, You Are Here, creates film-and-theatre documentaries with people whose lives tell the history and culture of their time. Two of these are having 2019 productions: Acting Our Age (with a group that includes three 95 year olds) and Streetsmarts (with members of the community without homes).


Festival Stage and freelance: In the past decade, Umberger has been Creative Director for Festival Stage, a LORT standard series in residence to establish the theatre at the renovated Rhodes Center for the Arts in Winston-Salem. He directed for the company, and produced its Visiting Playwright Festival, which hosted all the season playwrights in residence from New York. He produced the collaborations with Wake Forest University and the Wake Forest ALS Center, staging and coordinating the two-year project on Moises Kaufman's 33 Variations. Many freelance credits include Edward Albee's The Goat or Who is Sylvia? (to open Florida Studio Theatre's third theatre and performance series). King Lear was a three year project at two theatres, and in Philadelphia received an NEA Shakespeare in American Communities grant. A Midsummer Night's Dream has had four development productions at three theatres, with Cirque du Soleil veteran actor/performer Karl Baumann.


Charlotte Repertory Theatre: As Founder and Artistic Director of Charlotte Rep, Umberger formed the company with a group of actors to establish a professional contemporary theatre and a home for artists and audiences. When he left after 25 years, the Rep had grown from small ensemble to one of the 70+ national members of the League of Resident Theatres. The Rep's new play program featured 60+ scripts from natonal submissions, 34 of which were premiered at the Rep, published, and produced elsewhere including off-Broadway and in feature film. In two terms as the Rep's Artistic Director, his work includes developing a collective of resident and visiting artists, among them Pulitzer Prize winning playwrights Tony Kushner and Beth Henley, and Academy Award winning actor Olympia Dukakis. Directing credits include many new plays, regional premieres, a noted production of Angels in America, and a three-year collaboration with The Charlotte Symphony on three of Shakespeare's plays. These were produced in a 2,000 seat house, used complete texts and scores, and combined the work of 100 performers from multiple disciplines on stage together.


Arts education: An advocate for arts education, Umberger has contributed arts features to many publications, and has been a frequent guest lecturer/director. As Artistic Director of Charlotte's Children's Theatre for eight years, he and the team introduced professional production and new work commissions, and created The Ensemble Company for young actors. Among EC's first group are many now working in the arts including Marshall Curry (three time Academy Award nominee) and composer / performer Kristin Anderson-Lopez (two time Academy Award co-winner for the songs Let It Go and Remember Me.) Directing/writing credits at CT include an adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, and Like Ashes, commissioned to address substance abuse (both by and developed with Wendy Hammond); adaptations of Beauty and the Beast (book, lyrics), Alan Parker's Bugsy Malone; and Decorations (co-author), a trilogy about Appalachia developed with a company of actors / musicians over three years, also produced for NCETV and Piccolo Spoleto Festival. During this time the theatre's staff and budget tripled, and CT soon after moved into its new home at ImaginOn.

Film/television credits include producing and directing short films adapted from the plays Husbandry and Boca (ASC Emerging Artist Grant), work in network and HBO films/series, and an appearance in the Emmy Award nominated documentary Dear Jesse. He received 27 citations from the Metrolina Theatre Association, The Charlotte Observer and area press for his producing and directing work with Charlotte Rep and Children's Theatre. Umberger studied in the professional program at N.Y.’s Circle in the Square, the only U.S. conservatory affiliated with a Broadway theatre; at the Univ. of NC/Charlotte (BCA); and with Alan Langdon and Larry Moss in N.Y. He is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and Actors' Equity. His lifetime partnership with the deceptively diminutive Rebecca Koon has produced many favorite collaborations including their best co-production: their daughter Maggie (who refuses to be an actor unless she's discovered in a drugstore).


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