The Playwrights Project

The Playwrights Project is an artistic initiative that employed 33 of the country’s top playwrights, sketch comedy writers, and musical theatre developers as full-time staff writers. Over the course of this eight-week project, each artist wrote and delivered a first draft of an original play, sketch comedy piece, or cabaret. The material generated during this time is under considereation for future production in FST’s Mainstage, Cabaret, Sketch Comedy, and Children’s Theatre programs.

In addition to working as staff writers, Playwrights Project artists enhanced FST’s online educational offerings by leading workshops, tutorials, and contributing to virtual classes. The artists also participated in online forum discussions and special Q&A sessions with small invited audiences.

For a full list of artists engaged as part of FST's Playwrights Project, see below. For a list of artists and their bios, click the "Playwrights" tab above. 

“The Project was conceived within the first few days of the theatre shutting down due to COVID-19. FST, like the rest of our nation, was brought to a sudden standstill. Three days after closing the theatre, I had a revelation about Shakespeare—he, like every good artist, instead of following the dark and writing about the plagues of his time, took the road less traveled and followed the light. He wrote, without judgment, about the wonder of humankind. Which made me think that now is the time for FST to inspire the creation of plays. To ask playwrights to write like Shakespeare and reveal humanity’s complexities without judgment."

-Richard Hopkins, Producing Artistic Director

Playwrights Project Artists

Gabriel Barre
Sarah Bierstock
Deborah Brevoort
Carole J. Bufford
Bill Cain
José Casas 
Jeffrey Couchman
Sean Daniels
Stephan deGhelder
Lawrence Engler
Thomas Gibbons
Bruce Graham
Kate Hamill
Kenneth Jones
Mark Kendall
Rachel Lynett
Ben Mackel
Michael McKeever
Scott Michaelsen
Julia Morales
Sam Mossler 
Jason Odell Williams
Tricia Paoluccio
Larry Parr
Sandy Rustin
Nick Santa Maria
Kyle Shoemaker
Mark St. Germain
The Swingaroos
Bruce Vilanch
Matt Walker
Brandon Wardell
Robert Woo

Gabriel Barre  |  Dolly

Gabriel Barre is an internationally acclaimed director who directed Amazing Grace on Broadway and in Washington DC. Off-Broadway credits include the original productions of; Manhattan Theatre Club’s The Wild Party, Summer of ’42, john & jen and Almost, Maine. National Tours include Amazing Grace, Pippin, and Cinderella.  Regional theatre credits include the original production of Memphis at North Shore Music Theatre and Theatreworks in Palo Alto, CA; A Sign of the Times at the Delaware Theatre Company; as well as Billy Elliot, Sweeney Todd, Finian’s Rainbow, Houdini, Camille, A Sign of the Times and many others at Goodspeed Musicals and at the nearby, Norma Terris Theatre. International credits include: the Mexican premiere of Billy Elliot, The Scarlet Pimpernel in Japan, and numerous shows in Korea, China and the Czech Republic, including the world premiere of the new Czech musical, Holmes, The Legend which opened last fall and the Frank Wildhorn musical, Carmen, which recently celebrated its 12th sold out year anniversary.  He is thrilled and grateful to be working with Florida Studio Theatre again, where he directed a production of the Kander and Ebb revue, The World Goes Round, a few years ago.

Sarah Bierstock  |  Myths and Legends

Honor Killing was actress Sarah Bierstock’s first play, and its WORLD PREMIERE ran for eight weeks at Florida Studio Theatre (FST) to full capacity audiences. It received its second production at Athena Project in Denver, CO. Honor Killing was read at WAM Theater in West Stockbride, CT, as part of the Fresh Takes Series. In 2017, it was one of three plays featured in the New Works Reading Series at the Athena Theater, FST’s Sarasota Festival of New Plays, and the PROJECT W Festival at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City (InProximity Theater). Sarah received an award for 2nd Runner up for The Woodward International Playwriting Prize at the University of New Hampshire earlier in 2017, where two readings of Honor Killing were conducted both at the University of New Hampshire and the 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, NH. Honor Killing received Honorable Mention for the Bridge Initiative Playwriting Contest: Playwright of the Year Award, was a Finalist for the 2017 Ashland New Play Festival, a Semi-Finalist for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival (2017), a Semi- Finalist for the Premier Stages 2017 Play Festival, a Semi-Finalist for the Id Theaters 2017 Playwriting Conference, a Finalist for the Hudson River Artists Playwriting Award (2017), 1 of 29 in final consideration for the PlayPenn New Play Development Conference (2017), a Semi-Finalist for 2016 Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, a Semi-Finalist for Stage Left Theatre’s Playwriting Residency (Chicago, 2017), and was part of The John Drew Theater Lab at Guild Hall (East Hampton, NY). Sarah was honored to be commissioned by Center Stage (Baltimore) to participate in the “My America: She” project.  Her second play, Mothers & Daughters (MAD), was workshopped at Florida Studio Theatre as part of the NNPN's Women in Playwriting Festival (Spring 2019).  

Deborah Brevoort  |  The Drolls

Deborah Brevoort is the award-winning author of plays, musicals, and opera librettos. She is best known for The Women of Lockerbie, which is produced internationally. Her plays, which have been produced at theatres across the US, include: Blue Moon Over Memphis, a Noh Drama about Elvis, The Poetry of Pizza, The Blue-Sky Boys, The Comfort Team, The Velvet Weapon, Into the Fire, and Signs of Life. Her latest, My Lord, What a Night, will open at Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC after a rolling world premiere at the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, and Orlando Shakes. A two-time winner of the Frederick Loewe Award in Musical Theatre for Coyote Goes Salmon Fishing, with Scott Richards, and King Island Christmas with David Friedman. Her latest is Crossing Over, an Amish hip-hop musical with Stephanie Salzman. She has written the librettos for seven operas, which have been produced at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fort Worth Opera, Opera Colorado, and others. Her plays are published by Applause Books, Samuel French, DPS, and No Passport Press.  She teaches at Columbia University and NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

Carole J. Bufford  |  Sirens of the Silver Screen

A recipient of the Nightlife, Bistro, and BroadwayWorld Awards for Outstanding Vocalist, Carole has become one of the most sought after young performers on the American vintage pop, cabaret and jazz scene. She recently enjoyed a highly praised 10 month solo run at New York’s Birdland Jazz Club and a monthly residency at Feinstein’s/54 Below. Carole is the creator and star of multiple shows including speak easy. (featuring the Grammy Award-winning Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks), Come Together, and You Don’t Own Me, which earned her rave reviews from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Times (UK). Carole is the Gold Medal winner of the American Traditions Vocal Competition.

Bill Cain  |  Untitled Mainstage Project

Bill Cain is a Peabody and Writers’ Guild Award-winning screenwriter whose work for television includes Nothing Sacred (ABC-TV), Thicker Than Blood (Writer’s Guild nomination), Clover (Christopher Award), Sounder (NAACP Image Award nomination for best picture) and Nightjohn (citation for excellence from the National Society of Film Critics). Nightjohn was named by The New Yorker as the best American film of the year.  He has written for Netflix’s House of Cards and Bloodline. His work for theater includes Equivocation, 9 Circles, Stand-Up Tragedy, and How To Write A New Book For The Bible. He received the 2009 and 2010 Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, the only writer to receive the award in sequential years. Also - the inaugural Terrance McNally Playwrighting Award. His plays have been awarded best play/production awards in Los Angeles (Ovation Award), Washington D.C. (Helen Hayes Award), San Francisco (Bay Area Critics Award), and the Joseph A. Calloway Award for the Broadway production of Stand Up Tragedy. He was the founder and for seven years artistic director of the Boston Shakespeare Company. He is delighted to be part of a project inspired in part by Shakespeare’s creativity during a time of crisis and honored to be working with Florida Studio Theatre.

José Casas  |  Frankenstein Adaptation

José Casas is a playwright and Assistant Professor who heads the Playwriting Minor in the Department of Theatre & Drama at the University of Michigan. His plays/books include Flint, the vine, antonia, and 14. His plays, la ofrenda and somebody’s children, were awarded both the Bonderman National Playwriting Award and the American Alliance for Theatre & Education (AATE) Distinguished Play Award. His book, Palabras del Cielo: An Exploration of Latina/o Theatre for Young Audiences was awarded the AATE Distinguished Book Award.

Jeffrey Couchman  |  Master of the Revels

Jeffrey Couchman is co-author (with Scott Alan Evans) of the play Three Wise Guys, based on Christmas stories by Damon Runyon, which premiered Off-Broadway at the Beckett Theatre. He has written the book and lyrics for two musicals: Battleship Potemkin, based on Eisenstein’s classic film, and Blood and Fire, about the beginnings of the Salvation Army in Victorian London. He has written screenplays for Imagine Films, Warner Bros. TV, and other studios. His fiction has appeared in many literary journals. He is author of the book The Night of the Hunter: A Biography of a Film (selected by the Financial Times of London as a Best Book of the Year) and editor of an annotated edition of two film scripts by James Agee, The Night of the Hunter and The African Queen: First and Final Screenplays (University of Tennessee Press). Couchman teaches screenwriting at the College of Staten Island.

Sean Daniels  |  New Dramatic Mainstage

Sean Daniels is a Director, Playwright, Husband, Artistic Director, and most exhaustingly, the father to a toddler. As a writer, he has been produced commercially Off-Broadway by Tony Award Winner Tom Kirdahy, and at Arizona Theatre Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, City Theatre, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, and Dad’s Garage. His play, The White Chip, was a New York Times Critics Pick and is in talks to return when theater does. As a director, he has directed at theaters such the Manhattan Theatre Club (Off-Broadway), The Kennedy Center in Washington DC, to the West End in London. Sean has been named “one of the top fifteen up & coming artists in the U.S., whose work will be transforming America’s stages for decades to come” & “One Of 7 People Reshaping And Revitalizing The American Musical” by American Theatre Magazine. He is the Artistic Director of Arizona Theatre Company, where he first fell in love with a theatre as a kid, though he is a native Floridian, having gone to high school and college there (Go Noles!).

Stephan deGhelder  |  Sketch Comedy

As a playwright/satirist/lyricist, his work has been seen in Chicago, Florida, Washington DC, New York City, Canada, and Abu Dhabi. His award-winning musical satirical cabaret shows, License to Bash and Prime Ribbing, ran for several years in Florida, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. He was a featured writer for FST’s cabaret shows, Laughing Matters and Older Than Dirt. Stephan’s performance credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway, national tours, regional theatres, television, commercials, and film in the United States and abroad.

Lawrence Engler  |  Aesop's Fables

Larry’s Poko Puppets have performed all over the world for the last 50 years. Appearances have included The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Detroit Institute, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, and The NY Metropolitan Opera. Television credits Include commercials and industrial films for The Sony Corporation, AT&T, Hershey Chocolate, Pepsi-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, McGraw Hill, Northern Bathroom Tissue, Canon USA, MTV, The Prudential Insurance Company of America, and Proctor and Gamble. Larry Engler is co-author of the award-winning book Making Puppets Come Alive. He has done three tours for the US Information Service under the State Department to Israel, Honduras, and India.  He has presented workshops in puppetry all over the world: at The Kennedy Center, The Wang Center, New York University, Adelphi University, Smithsonian Institution, and in Singapore and The United Kingdom. Awards and grants include: The Jim Henson Foundation, The Puppeteers of America, The Industrial Television Association, and the American Library Association. Mr. Engler is a former board of trustees member of The Puppeteers of America, a former president of The Puppetry Guild of Greater NY, and a retired member of AFTRA and SAG.

Thomas Gibbons  |  Untitled Mainstage Project

Thomas Gibbons has a long association with InterAct Theatre Company in Philadelphia, which has premiered nine of his plays: Pretending to America, 6221, Axis Sally, Black Russian, Bee-luther-hatchee, Permanent Collection (NNPN Continued Life of New Plays Fund), A House With No Walls (NNPN Continued Life of New Plays fund), Silverhill, and Uncanny Valley (NNPN Continued Life of New Plays Fund). Other plays include The Exhibition and Homer. His plays have also been seen at the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, Off-Broadway at 59E59 Theatre, Off-off-Broadway at Blue Heron Theatre, Contemporary American Theater Festival, Northlight Theatre, Florida Stage, Unicorn Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, New Repertory Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Kirk Douglas Theatre/Center Theater Group, Aurora Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre, San Diego Rep, and many others. He is the recipient of seven playwriting fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Roger L. Stevens Award from The Fund for New American Plays, the Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwriting Award, the NAACP Theatre Award, two Barrymore Awards for Outstanding New Play, and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. 

Bruce Graham  |  Visit Joe Whitefeather

PLAYS: Burkie, Early One Evening at the Rainbow Bar & Grille, Moon Over the Brewery, Minor Demons, Belmont Avenue Social Club, According to Goldmman, Desperate Affection, Stella and Lou, Coyote on a Fence, The Champagne Charlie Stakes, Funnyman, The Craftsman, North of the Boulevard, Rizzo, The Philly Fan, Sanctions, and Gary. Graham has won consecutive Barrymore Awards for Best New Play (Something Intangible, Any Given Monday), the Joseph Jefferson Award (The Outgoing Tide), and a Jeff nomination for White Guy on the Bus. White Guy on the Bus is currently nominated for the “Offie” - London’s version of the Obie Award.  Two new plays, Good Americans and The Flatlanders, will open the 20/21 season at Florida Rep and 1812 Productions.  His work is included in Best 10 Minute Plays of 2015, 2016, and 2018.

Graham recently returned to acting, appearing as Ben Hecht in Moonlight and Magnolias, Ernie in Rumors, Eddie in Lost in Yonkers, Richard in Time Stands Still, Milt in Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Artie in Hurlyburly and Arthur in Pterodactyls. MOVIES: Dunston Checks In, Anastasia, and Steal this Movie. TELEVISION: Roseanne, Leg Work, Cedar Cove, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Trading Christmas, The Good Witch, Hunt for the Unicorn Killer. Along with Michele Volansky, he is the author of The Collaborative Playwright.  Graham is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania and teaches playwriting and film courses at Drexel University.  He divides his time between Elkton, Maryland and South Philly with his wife, Stephanie.

Kate Hamill  |  The Party

Kate Hamill is an actor/playwright. Wall Street Journal Playwright of the Year, 2017. Her work includes her play Pride & Prejudice at Primary Stages / HVSF (in which she originated role of Lizzy (Nominee, Off-Broadway Alliance Award), Sense & Sensibility at Bedlam (originated role of Marianne. Winner, Off-Broadway Alliance Award; Nominee, Drama League Award); Vanity Fair at the Pearl Theatre (originated the role of Becky Sharp; Nominee, Off-Broadway Alliance Award), Mansfield Park at Northlight (originated role of Mary Crawford), Little Women at Primary Stages and the Jungle, Dracula at Classic Stage Company (originated role of Renfield) Emma, and Scarlet Letter (both upcoming). Her plays have been produced off-Broadway, at A.R.T., the Guthrie, Seattle Rep, PlayMaker’s, Folger, OSF, Trinity Rep, Pittsburgh Public, Dorset Theatre Festival, Shakespeare Theatre of DC, Dallas Theater Center, Kansas City Rep, Long Wharf, A.C.T. & others; upcoming productions at the Old Globe, Denver Center, Cygnet, McCarter Theatre, & more. She is currently developing a new adaptation of The Odyssey, a Christmas play called Scrooge for Senate; several original plays (Prostitute Play, The Piper - O’Neill NPC Finalist); and In the Mines (a folk musical with music by The Bengsons). Kate is one of the most-produced playwrights nationwide for 3 seasons running (2017-2020).

Kenneth Jones  |  Last Call

Kenneth Jones’ play Alabama Story was a 2016 nominee for the Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award and a 2014 Finalist in the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. By Fall 2020, it will have been seen in at least 34 cities around the nation since its 2015 premiere by Pioneer Theatre Company. Other plays: Two Henrys (two-time Semi-Finalist in the O’Neill NPC, developed by Pioneer Theatre Company, Hudson Stage Company, Red Mountain Theatre, Pacific Resident Theatre); Hollywood, Nebraska (developed in Off-Broadway’s NewTACTics New Play Festival; Lab Series at Actors Theatre of Indiana; Wyoming Theater Festival); Circa 1976, or Somewhere in the Suburbs of a Swing State Shaped Like a Mitten (O’Neill NPC Semi-Finalist); and Ten Minutes on a Bench. Musicals: It Happened One Christmas, co-conceived with Karen Azenberg (Pioneer Theatre, 2015); Naughty/Nice, with composer Gerald Stockstill (published by; Voice of the City, with composer Elaine Chelton (developed by York Theatre Company and Human Race Theatre Company). He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, BMI and The BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop (Advanced). He writes about his work and advocates for other theater makers at

Mark Kendall  |  Sketch Comedy

Mark Kendall’s one-person show, The Magic Negro and Other Blackness was produced by Dad’s Garage Theatre and the Alliance Theatre. It was also performed at ARS Nova's ANTFEST and The New Ground Play Festival at Cleveland Play House. He completed the Comedy Central Chris Rock Summer School Program, where he pitched jokes at The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Mark was the Readers Pick for Best Comedian in Creative Loafing Atlanta in 2019.

Rachel Lynett  |  As You Are

Rachel Lynett is a queer Afro-Latinx playwright. Her recent credits include Apologies to Lorraine Hansberry as a semifinalist for the O'Neill Theatre Conference, Rich B*tch as a semifinalist for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and commissions with Theatre Lab and Florida Studio Theatre. Her plays have been featured at Barrington Stage Company, Theatre Lab, Theatre Prometheus, Unicorn Theatre, Jobsite Theatre, Laughing Pig Theatre Company, Capital Repertory Theatre, Teatro Espejo, the Kennedy Center Page to Stage Festival, Theatresquared, Equity Library Theatre, Chicago, Talk Back Theatre, Stage Left, American Stage Theatre Company, and Orlando Shakespeare Theatre.

Ben Mackel  |  Hansel and Gretel

Ben Mackel is an actor, composer, and singer/songwriter from Asheville, NC. As an actor, he’s worked in theatre & film regionally, including Barter Theatre, NC Stage Company, and Florida Studio Theatre. As a composer, he’s had shows produced at Flat Rock Playhouse, Barter Theatre, and South Carolina Children’s Theatre. As a singer/songwriter, he’s toured extensively with The Blue Eyed Bettys and as a solo artist known as Threadbare. More information at,, and

Michael McKeever  |  American Rhapsody

Michael McKeever has written 30 full-length plays that have been produced at theaters across the United States, Canada, and Europe. His play Daniel’s Husband has played Off-Broadway twice—first at Primary Stages at the historic Cherry Lane Theatre, (Nomination for Off- Broadway Alliance Award for Best New Work), and at the Westside Theatre, where it ran for five months. McKeever's play After appeared Off-Broadway at 59E59, where it enjoyed a highly successful three-month run. Other theaters that have produced his work include Penguin Rep, Marin Theatre Company, New Conservatory Theater Center, Phoenix Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, Palm Beach Dramaworks, Komödie Dresden (Dresden, Germany), Och-Teatr (Warsaw, Poland), and Theater in der Josefstadt, Kammerspiele (Vienna, Austria). McKeever’s work has been nominated four times for the nationally renowned Steinberg/American Theatre Critics New Play Award. He has won numerous Carbonell and Silver Palm Awards, and has received three Florida Individual Artist Fellowships. He is also an award-winning actor and designer. McKeever is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Actors’ Equity, and a co-founder of Zoetic Stage in Miami. 

Julia Morales  |  Sketch Comedy

Julia Morales is a writer, director, and performer originally from Houston. She currently resides in Chicago, where she writes and performs with the Second City Touring Company. She is an American Musical and Dramatic Academy alumni and has studied and performed sketch and improv comedy across the nation for over 18 years. She has been acknowledged for her efforts to promote diversity and equality through her performances and writing.

Sam Mossler  |  Myths and Legends

Sam Mossler recently appeared at FST in The Nether and Kunstler. Other FST productions: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeHow to Use a Knife (Chef George), Other People’s Money (Garfinkle). New York: The Owl and The Pussycat (Creative Space) and The Sexes: According to Dorothy Parker (NY Comedy Club). Regional: The Philadelphia Story (New Harmony Theatre); The Tempest (Shakespeare on the Hudson); and The Threepenny Opera (Connecticut Grand Opera). As a writer, Sam’s plays have been produced in New York and Los Angeles, and his screenplays have received honors from the Austin Film Festival and the International Screenwriters Association. He is most proud of his work as a Teaching Artist in FST’s Education program.

Jason Odell Williams  |  America in One Room

Jason Odell Williams is a writer and producer originally from Columbia, Maryland. He has been nominated for an Emmy Award, an Off-Broadway Alliance Award, and an L.A. Ovation Award. Two of his plays, Handle With Care and Church & State, are published by DPS and have won two Henry Awards and 3 Theatre Bay Area Awards. Together, those two plays have had over 100 regional productions across the US and Canada. Jason was the winner of the 2012 Hudson Valley Writers Workshop contest and his work has been named as a Semi-Finalist for the 2019 and 2020 National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, a Finalist for the 2018 InterAct Theatre Company’s New Play Award, and a Semi-Finalist for PlayMaker Rep’s 2020 Thomas Wolfe Playwriting Competition. Other plays include: Division Street (CenterStage at the JCC); Someone Else (NC Stage); and Baltimore in Black & White (cell theatre). Upcoming productions of The Whole Shebang and On The Market (theaters to be announced soon). He lives in Manhattan with his wife and writing partner, Charlotte Cohn, their daughter, and rescued dog.

Tricia Paoluccio  |  Dolly

Tricia Paoluccio grew up on an almond farm in Modesto, CA, and learned how to sing by listening to Dolly Parton records. Her Broadway debut came as Brittany Murphy's understudy in the role of Catherine in the Tony Award-winning revival of A View from the Bridge, opposite Allison Janney and Anthony LaPaglia. Other Broadway credits include Julie Taymor’s The Green Bird and Fiddler on the Roof as Chava, opposite Alfred Molina and Harvey Fierstein. Off-Broadway highlights include originating the role of Donna in the comedy Debbie Does Dallas, Cressida in Troilus and Cressida (directed by Sir Peter Hall) with TFANA, and Carol in Edward Albee’s The Lady from Dubuque (the inaugural production at the new Signature Theatre). Her television/film credits include the upcoming feature indie Portrait of a Young Man (which was filmed in Florida in 2019), Hunters, Plot Against America, Homeland, Chicago Med, Bull, OITNB, The Affair, Law and Order and many more. She played Dolly Parton at the Ryman Auditorium in the musical Stand By Your Man, and recently played Doralee in Sacramento Music Circus production of 9 to 5. 

Larry Parr  |  Harry T

Larry Parr has had hundreds of regional productions.  Dramatist Guild and Sarasota Area Playwrights Society member.  Awards include: Hi-Hat-Hattie (Kansas City’s Drama Desk Award for Best Musical, Florida Individual Artist Recipient, American Cinema Foundation’s First Prize for Screenwriting); My Castle’s Rockin’ (Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre’s ScriptFest, first white playwright produced in the history of the National Black Theatre Festival); Invasion of Privacy (1999 Gold Coast Players best-play award, The National Arts Club’s Playwrights First Award in Manhattan, Ashland New Play Festival, Theatre Conspiracy’s New Play Competition, Florida Individual Artist Recipient, and Dezart Performs Audience Favorite, Best Actresses, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress in Palm Springs); Sundew (Southern Appalachian Repertory Theater’s Annual Play Competition, Judith Chapman Best Director Desert Theater League Awards);  Ethel Waters: His Eye is on the Sparrow (Florida Individual Artist Recipient, The Sarasota County Arts Council’s John Ringling Fellowship Grant, Daytony Award - Best Overall Production; Shunned (Southern Appalachian Repertory Theater’s ScriptFest Winner, Utah Shakespeare Festival, New American Playwrights Project, Julie Harris Playwright Award Finalist).  He was a winner of Florida Studio Theatre’s Short Play Competition nine years in a row.  He won STAGES ’93, the 1994 Porter Fleming Playwriting Competition, The Arion Award For Music Excellence, Civic Recognition Award, and the Broome Agency’s Best-Novel Award.  In 2000, and in 2010, Florida Studio Theatre presented him with the Barbara Anton Playwriting Award.  In 2002, he was chosen as a participant in The Floridian Project with a play about Harry T. Moore.

Sandy Rustin  |  Colliding and Family Dinner: A Quarantine Comedy

Sandy Rustin is an actress and award-winning playwright recently named to the Broadway Women’s Fund’s inaugural “50 Women to Watch” list. Her comedy, The Cottage, is in development for an upcoming Broadway production directed by Jason Alexander.  Sandy’s critically acclaimed adaptation of the cult-hit film, CLUE, is slated for a 2021 National Tour. Sandy's adaptation of MGM’s film, Mystic Pizza, is expected to premiere in early 2021. She is currently developing a new musical revue for Disney Theatrical and a new live experience for Disney Cruises. Both are expected to hit stages in 2021. Sandy created and wrote the Book & Lyrics for Mattel’s American Girl Live, a musical that toured 47 cities in the U.S. Last season, Sandy (and collaborator, Sarah Saltzberg), gave a “thorough feminist scouring” (NY Times) to Rogers & Hart’s I Married an Angel, which they adapted for NYC’s City Center’s Encores! Her sketch comedy musical, Rated P … For Parenthood, opened Off-Broadway at the Westside Theatre, was optioned for TV development with ABC Studios, and is available for licensing through Broadway Licensing. Sandy’s play, Struck, enjoyed critically acclaimed productions at NJ REP and Theatre Raleigh. Her play, Houston, was the recipient of the New American Musical Award, and Sandy’s comedy, Elijah, recently won "Best Play" in the Midwestern Jewish Plays Project. Sandy currently has an original television series in development with MarVista. Sandy is the Founding Co-Artistic Director of Midtown Direct Rep and an advocate for the Meredith Cowden Foundation. She is a Northwestern University graduate and a member of ASCAP, SAG, AEA, and the Dramatists Guild, and is represented by Abrams Artists. This season, Sandy is working on The Suffragette’s Murder, a commission as part of Florida Studio Theatre’s Suffragist Project, in addition to a new scientific comedy, Colliding.

Nick Santamaria  |  Sketch Comedy

Nick is a 40-year show business veteran.  On Broadway in Grease!, and Mel Brooks' The Producers for 5 years playing almost every male role.  He's been a stand up comedian, and a main performer/writer/composer for the popular Improv comedy troupe, Mental Floss. He has written material for two off-Broadway shows, Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know, and Real Men, The Musical (writer/composer/lyrics).  He has appeared in every form of show business except ballet and circus.

Kyle Shoemaker  |  Sketch Comedy

Kyle Shoemaker is the Assistant Director of Sketch at Florida Studio Theatre. He is a performer, improviser, and filmmaker.
Kyle is a founding member of the FST house team Come What Will (improvised Shakespeare) and performs with FST Improv, On Deck, and Big Bang Improv. He has a degree in Film Production Technology from Valencia College. Kyle could not be more thrilled to be a part of FST.

Mark St. Germain  |  Untitled Mainstage Project

MARK ST. GERMAIN (Playwright) Mark has written the plays Freud’s Last Session, Dancing Lessons, Best of Enemies, Relativity, and, with John Markus, The Fabulous Lipitones, all seen at FST. Other plays include Ears on a Beatle, Camping with Henry and Tom, The God Committee, and Out of Gas on Lover’s Leap.  Mark wrote the perennial musical, The Gifts of the Magi, with composer Randy Courts and Stand By Your Man, The Tammy Wynette Musical, for Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Television work includes writer/consultant for The Cosby Show and Dick Wolfe’s Crime and Punishment. He co-wrote Carroll Ballard’s film Duma, as well as produced and directed the documentary My Dog, An Unconditional Love Story with Richard Gere, Glenn Close, and others. Mark wrote the award-winning children’s book, Three Cups. He is an Associate Artist at the Barrington Stage Company in the Berkshires.

The Swingaroos  |  The Uptown Lowdown

Award-winning vocalist, Kimberly Hawkey, leads a dazzling sextet assembled from NYC's finest swing players. Whether paying tribute to classic Hollywood, the Great White Way, or beloved Big Bands of the ‘30s & ‘40s, The Swingaroos will light up the joint with their outstanding musicianship and irrepressible cheer. Broadway's Assaf Gleizner entertains from the piano, supporting high-flying musical arrangements and delightful surprises at every turn. This lighthearted replica of Golden Age "territory bands" leaves sold-out crowds humming along and cheering for more!

Bruce Vilanch  |  Dolly 

Bruce Vilanch has the same hair color as Dolly Parton, as well as the same bra size.  He has written for some of her stage appearances over the last half century and was part of the second wave writing team on her infamous TV series on ABC Sunday nights.  He has six Emmys, none of them for that show, but two of them for co-writing a couple of his 23 Oscar telecasts. In fact, he is the “EGOT” of awards show writers, having penned many Emmys, Grammys, Oscars and Tonys. For six years, he was a Hollywood Square, just to the left of Whoopi, if that's possible, and for two years he starred on Broadway and on tour as Edna Turnblad, Baltimore housewife, in Hairspray (for which the bra size came in handy).  He has written for about everyone in show business, which was documented in the film Get Bruce!, featuring his frequent collaborators Bette Midler, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal.

Matt Walker  |  Sketch Comedy

Matt Walker has been performing and teaching improv across the country since 2010. He worked at the Nerdist Showroom at Meltdown Comics and performed at iO West, The Second City, Upright Citizens Brigade - LA, and The Pack Theater in Los Angeles. Matt performs with various groups, including The Third Thought (Tampa, FL). Currently, he performs with FST Improv and produces shows, including The Estate Show and The Never No Show in St. Pete.

Brandon Wardell  |  Only the Lonely

Brandon is equally at home in the spotlight or behind the scenes. A 5-time Tony and 4-time Grammy nominee (one Tony win for Porgy and Bess) and a member of the Recording Academy; he has performed, produced and recorded all over the world. His band, Under the Streetlamp, has 4 PBS Specials airing nationally. Broadway/NYC: James Joyce’s The Dead, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Assassins, Good Vibrations, Catch Me if You Can, and Evil Dead the Musical.

Robert Woo  |  Sketch Comedy

Robert Woo has written for shows including Making It and The Kelly Clarkson Show. He's also punched up and produced scripts for NBC, CBS, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon. He’s won spots in the Nickelodeon Writers Program and NBC’s Late Night Writers Workshop. He's performed improv and sketch comedy for a couple decades now. He takes a multivitamin every day.


May 4, 2020  I  Sarasota Herald-Tribune  I  Coronavirus Florida: Local Arts Grup Receive Federal Help

May 12, 2020  I  Broadway World  I  Florida Studio Theatre Announces National New Play Development Initiative

May 12, 2020  I  Sarasota Magazine  I  Florida Studio Theatre at Work Behind the Scenes

May 13, 2020  I  Sarasota SCENE Magazine  I  FST Announces New Play Development Initiative

May 13, 2020  I  SRQ Daily  I  FST Launches National New Play Development Initiative

May 13, 2020  I  BroadwayWorld  I  Arizona Theatre Company, Sean Daniels Partner with FST for The Playwrights Project

May 13, 2020  I American Theatre Magazine  I  FST Cancels Summer Season, Launches Playwrights Project

May 14, 2020  I  The Observer  Relief bill allows Sarasota theaters to rehire employees

May 17, 2020  I  Sarasota Herald-Tribune  I  FST commissions writers to create new works

June 4, 2020  I  Columbia University - School of the Arts  I  Professor Deborah Brevoort Part of Playwrights Project

July 8, 2020  I  WUSF Radio (NPR)  I  Sarasota's Florida Studio Theatre Fosters New Work Despite Coronavirus Challenges

Summer 2020  I  Page 2 Stage Podcast  I Sean Daniels, Artistic Director/Playwright/Director on New Play

September 27, 2020  I  Maryland Theatre Guide  I  'A Quick 5' With Jason Odell Williams