Projects & press

Projects & Press
Directing & *Producing 2005-present  including LORT / Partial list

Many of the projects below were developed over extended periods with the creative teams, many of whom have worked together for 20+ years. 

Images: Donna Bise, Pelham Palmer, Mark Garvin, Jay Thomas, Bill Giduz, Bobby Moody, Norris Greenlee


A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM by William Shakespeare*
In perpetual process after four development productions
With Cirque du Soleil performer Karl Baumann

 “The question isn’t whether to see it – it’s whether to see it once, twice, or every time it’s performed..It manages to be both amazingly fresh and true to tradition...Steve Umberger has pulled out all the stops and has delivered a (literally) soaring event...In every blissful way, it’s a dream come true."
News & Record (Mizell)

"Even though this production is powerfully muscular, Shakespeare's voice is not neglected. .....Lucky for you this Dream lasts more than one evening." 
Enterprise (Roy)
More about the recurring Dream

by Lucas Hnath*
Playworks Group in association with The Pine Hill Project at Blumenthal Performing Arts

"The revitalized impact of a production like this reminds us how important a professional theatre company can be in the cultural life of a city...Can we work, pray, or even live together after we've recognized that we fundamentally disagree? ...Response from the audience during the post-performance talkback confirmed that a satisfying cross-section of people can instantly get what The Christians is saying to us now."
Broadway World (Tannenbaum)  

"Steve Umberger directs a fast-moving production that leaves breathing space for moments of heartbreak." Charlotte Observer  (Toppman)      

HATCHETMAN by David Wiltse
People's Light & Theatre  (Philadelphia) and Festival Stage*

"Under the sure-handed direction of Steve Umberger, the marvelous ensemble makes the difficult look easy, with its wicked sense of humor and an inventive knack for geometry...It takes office hysteria to the limit and I just loved it!...This People's Light production features a spectacular pinpoint-perfect cast...Each member of the cast has sketched his or her character perfectly; the satire is impeccable."
Philadelphia / Montgomery News (Bevilacqua) 

"The cast runs like a hormonally charged, well-oiled (if loosely bolted) machine. Umberger knows when to hold 'em and when to toss 'em out, flailing."
Philadelphia Inquirer (Rosenfeld)  

Read more here:

33 VARIATIONS by Moises Kaufman* 
Festival Stage, two year development

"Intellectual prowess, scholarship, and achievement provide no defense against illness and death. These are just a few of the themes that are explored with inventiveness and skill in 33 Variations. The collaboration is seamless...It's an unusual and beautiful show, skillfully done and not to be missed."
Winston-Salem Journal (Felder)      


OVER THE TAVERN by Tom Dudzick
Riverside Theatre (FL)

“The first rate cast under Steve Umberger's affectionate direction captures most of the pseudo-angst lurking beneath the surface...Frank Ludwig's set design captures the middle class milieu with its apartment design, decorated for practicality, and a profusion of wallpapers...Bob Croghan's costumes are also period-perfect and full of character-rich touches."  
Palm Beach Post (Erstein)

"Marvelously acted and funny from start to finish, Tavern plays out like a twisted sitcom and presents a dark underbelly to cheery family sagas...An immensely enjoyable two hours."   
Press Journal (DeYoung)

LUNCH AT THE PICCADILLY by Clyde Edgerton and Mike Craver*   (Premiere)
York Theatre Company, New York (concert); Playworks at Blumenthal Arts; Cape Fear Regional Theatre (Premiere); Parkway Playhouse; Festival Stage
Based on Edgerton's best selling novel and N.Y. Times Notable Book of the same name

"The musical doesn't shy away from truths about old folks. It puts us inside their heads with gentle and broad wit and a tougher kind of wisdom."  
Observer  (Toppmann)

“The themes about aging and family are universal.…Steve Umberger gets confident characterizations from his veteran cast….A funny and heartfelt hit, worthy of its’ creators’ estimable talents." 
Raleigh News & Observer (Dicks)  

ANITA BRYANT DIED FOR YOUR SINS by Brian Christopher Williams  (Premiere)
Florida Studio Theatre (New play festival & premiere)
Playworks development workshop / Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award 

"This is first class work...Umberger's direction is wonderfully efficient. There's real artistry here, sometimes in the smallest details. The play is beautifully written, astonishingly generous in its depiction of subsidiary characters, funny, unpredictable, and conscious of the larger social and political world in which the tale unfolds. It makes other coming-of-age stories seem crude in comparison."
Tampa Bay Planet (Leib)

"It offers an intriguing perspective on a familiar story, set against the backdrop of a turbulent time for America."   Variety (Handelman) 

People's Light & Theatre  (Philadelphia) (Later published by Playscripts)

"Sherlock fans are in for a treat...Everybody's in disguise, accents and costumes proliferate, mysteries multiply, and Holmes - as proficient as Oscar Wilde at aphorisms - supplies the author with some of his best lines...All the Masterpiece Theatre stuff is terrific...All told: delish."
Philadelphia Inquirer (Zinman)

"It's an exciting show with gorgeous sets and gifted actors...Umberger shows his admiration for Holmes' history as one of the world's first modern-day superheros...The show keeps many secrets and presents many twists. Expect laughter and suspense as the mystery slowly and craftily unravels."
Philadelphia/Montgomery Media (Godshalk)


TWELFTH NIGHT / WHAT YOU WILL by Wendy Hammond   (Commission)
Two year guest playwright/director commission / BACCA Visiting Artist at Davidson College

In back to back seasons, 'What You Will' was developed from production on Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night.' Davidson Theatre's first playwright / director commission tackled the topic of identity in a world with increasingly more ways to identify.

"Shakespeare's tragedies have been the springboard for many modern dramas, but this is a giddy riff on the Bard's Twelfth Night, amid a gathering that includes a Unitarian, an agnostic, a Muslim, and an atheist...Hammond has conceived of varied faiths and sexual orientations as happening at a Deepak Chopra interfaith convention, with texting, blogging and podcasting all running amok...Best of all, the romp turns serious in the final act - just like Twelfth Night - and just when Hammond explicity references her source...I'm confident we'll be seeing this merry, vital and relevant comedy again."
Creative Loafing (Tannenbaum) 

KING LEAR by William Shakespeare
Three year project, People's Light & Theatre, Philadelphia / N.C. Shakespeare Festival

"If a checklist for good Shakespeare direction exists, Steve Umberger's King Lear earns a near-perfect grade...Lear requires quite a crowd, and the veteran People's Light ensemble make each character is too small for depth or detail."
Philadelphia City Paper (Cofta) 

"Simply well done...The design suggests the Shakespearean period but the modern touches remind us that plots and politics are very current topics."  
Winston-Salem Journal (Felder)

"A transcendant Lear...The cast is almost entirely without flaw."   
Philadelphia/Montgomery Media (Foti)

by William Shakespeare / Jean Sibelius
N.C. Shakespeare Festival and Charlotte Rep

The production was developed from an earlier one at Charlotte Rep, produced with The Charlotte Symphony (using the play's complete text and the Sibelius score); part of a three year collaboration combining the work of four performing arts companies

"The sumptuous production is a fantastic amalgam of light, dance, and live symphony music...From atop a cunning yet minimal set, a majestic Prospero commands an uncanny 12-person Ariel, whose delightful choreography makes the spirit seem literally everywhere at once."
Backstage (Woods)


CABARET by John Kander, Fred Ebb and Joe Masteroff

"Umberger and his ingenious design team frame Cliff's fall from innocence as a series of vignettes no less striking than archival photographs of the period...We never forget that we're seeing this decadent Berlin circa 1930 through Cliff's eyes...The concept informs everything about this thoughtfully conceived, beautifully executed revival, from the viewfinder-like set to the cinematic lighting...Umberger's fluid transitions from one world to the other not only keep the show moving; they show us how easily an entire nation's perception of fantasy and reality can become blurred. This is the central premise of Cabaret, and the production nails it."
Observer (Coppens)

"Thanks to the cinematic pacing, connections between the Kit Kat songs and the preceding action snap together with a satisfying click...Scenes between Cliff and Sally now work so easily Umberger seems to be unlocking their true intent." 
Creative Loafing (Tannenbaum)

ROMEO AND JULIET by William Shakespeare
N.C. Shakespeare Festival; and a collaboration with design and literary staff of Univ. of N.C. School of the Arts, Wake Forest University, High Point University, Winston-Salem State University and University of N.C. Greensboro

"Timeless and timely...The multicultural cast reflects the world we live in today, with a full spectrum of age and culture. Although Shakespeare's language remains intact, Umberger hasn't set the play in Elizabethan times or any specific period. The set and costumes use elements of classical and contemporary to create a world that feels immediate for us. Fred Story's original score uses solely exotic bells, and Mark Pirolo's towering set is on a thrust that juts into the audience."
News & Record (DeCwikiel-Kane) 

Florida Studio Theatre
Inaugural production of FST's third theatre space and Stage lll series

"If The Goat stimulates all these thoughts /about society's rules/ it's because the production is first-class in every particular...Umberger's direction underlines the strong emotions of all four characters., and Marcella Beckwith's set, of a modern, upscale living room, couldn't be more felicitous..The production keeps us riveted all the way."
Tampa Bay Planet (Leib) 

"Like the rest of Edward Albee's work, The Goat defies easy categories...Difficult, hilarious, touching and unsettling are a few words that come to mind...A bold cast, skillfully directed by Steve Umberger, gives this challenging work a worthy production."  
St. Petersburg Times (Bancroft)


Stage-and-film documentaries (2017-present)
Produced by The Playworks Group in association with sponsoring organizations
A blend of stage and film, developed over extended periods of time, in which people's life stories trace the history and culture of their time

"The collaboration between director and gerontologist turns decades of memories into a cohesive whole. The cast came back weekly to refine the script, which covers nearly every major event in American history since the jazz age of the 1920's, but always through anecdotes that personalize the septet...Umberger quickly makes connections between self-exploration and getting people onstage."
Charlotte Observer (Toppman) 

See complete creative teams

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