JOAN ROSS SORKIN is a playwright, musical theatre bookwriter and lyricist, opera librettist, and screenwriter. Her two most current musical projects are Black Swan Blues with Randy Klein, and Bordello with Barbara Bellman and Emiliano Messiez. Black Swan Blues had a staged reading in October, 2022 as part of The York Theatre Company’s Developmental Reading Series, and Bordello is scheduled to have the same in December, 2023.
Joan’s family musicals include Dandelion, with Mary Liz McNamara, with its world premiere at Playhouse on Park, W. Hartford, CT in April, 2023, and the award-winning Isabelle and The Pretty Ugly Spell with Steven Fisher with productions at The Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, Coral Gables, FL (Winner, National Children’s Theatre Award), NYMF (Outstanding New Family Musical), and Vital Theatre; and Go Green! Prince Charming’s Quest for Love and Ecology in NYC with Mary Feinsinger, presented in the very first New York Children’s Theater Festival, and Second Place Winner, Jackie White Memorial National Children’s Play Writing Award. Her full-length musicals include The Real McCoy with David Loud, produced by CAP21 (Conservatory Production and Blackjacks Festival); Imagining Monet with Carmel Owen, and In The Theatre with Fisher. Joan has been recognized as an emerging lyricist in The York Theatre’s NEO program. She has also written several stand-alone cabaret songs that have been performed in venues in NYC, and most recently, on-line during the pandemic.
Her opera credits include Strange Fruit with Chandler Carter, developed by New York City Opera and Golden Fleece Composers’ Chamber Theatre and commissioned and premiered by Long Leaf Opera, and again supported by New York City Opera in a concert version in association with The Harlem School of the Arts; White Witch with Brian Schober, premiered at Symphony Space in NYC, in concert at Roulette in Brooklyn, NY, and produced by Salem State University; and The Reef with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis, developed in libretto readings by The Center for Contemporary Opera, a finalist for the Domenic J. Pellicciotti Opera Composition Prize, and to be workshopped by Berkshire Opera Festival in April, 2024. She has two new operas in development: Paradise Bound with Steve Wallace and Jubilee with Klein.
Joan began her career as a playwright and is most proud of her one-woman play with music, (mis)Understanding Mammy: The Hattie McDaniel Story, produced by Emerging Artists Theatre for which Capathia Jenkins garnered a Drama Desk nomination and later a Black Theatre Alliance nomination at the Chicago Humanities Festival for her portrayal of Hattie McDaniel. The play was also produced by The Jefferson Playhouse, Jefferson, TX, and most recently by The Schoolhouse Theater, Croton Falls, NY. Joan has had many short plays produced in NYC and regionally, and several of her full-length plays have had productions, workshops and readings in various venues in NYC and regionally. Joan has recently written a four-part COVID play, This Is Serious, adaptable for digital streaming. The play dramatizes the stress on family relationships throughout the pandemic.
Her screenplays include Spectator Bird, based on the book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Wallace Stegner, and an original screenplay, Guilty.
Joan has been the long-time President of the Board of The York Theatre Company and a member of The Dramatists Guild (and DG Opera Committee), The BMI Musical Theatre Workshop, ASCAP, The League of Professional Theatre Women, and New Victory Theater’s LabWorks Project.