JOAN ROSS SORKIN is a playwright, musical theatre bookwriter and lyricist, opera librettist, and screenwriter. She is currently writing the book and lyrics for a new blues-infused musical, Black Swan Blues with composer Randy Klein, excerpts of which have been presented by Music Theatre of Connecticut. Other musicals include Imagining Monet (previously titled Monet) with composer/lyricist Carmel Owen, developed at The York Theatre, CAP21 with a generous grant from the Florence Gould Foundation, and at the French Consulate in an evening of songs and story; and In The Theatre with composer/lyricist/co-bookwriter Steven Fisher, developed at The York Theatre and The BMI Musical Theatre Workshop.
Her family musicals include the award-winning Isabelle and The Pretty Ugly Spell (Winner, National Children’s Theatre Award, Actors’ Playhouse at The Miracle Theatre, and Outstanding New Family Musical at NYMF) with Fisher with productions at The Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, NYMF, and Vital Theatre; Go Green! Prince Charming’s Quest for Love and Ecology in NYC with composer Mary Feinsinger, appearing in the very first New York Children’s Theater Festival and Second Place Winner, Jackie White Memorial National Children’s Play Writing Award; Dandelion with composer Mary Liz McNamara with a production scheduled in 2021; and The Real McCoy with composer/lyricist David Loud, produced by CAP21 (Conservatory Production and Blackjacks Festival). Joan was also recognized as an emerging lyricist in York Theatre’s NEO program.
Her opera credits include Strange Fruit with composer Chandler Carter, developed by New York City Opera and Golden Fleece Composers’ Chamber Theatre and commissioned and premiered by Long Leaf Opera, again supported by New York City Opera in a concert version in association with The Harlem School of the Arts; White Witch with composer Brian Schober, premiered at Symphony Space in NYC, then 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 and a finalist for the Domenic J. Pelliccotti Opera Composition Prize (still in development).
Joan began her career as a playwright, and she 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. 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 two-part COVID-19 play, adaptable for digital streaming, dramatizing the stresses on family relationships during the corona crisis and Black Lives Matter protests.
Joan is proud to be the President of the Board of The York Theatre and 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.