Piano, Voice, and Songwriting
Joan Cushing, a former elementary school teacher and cabaret performer, is best known for her political satirical revue Mrs. Foggybottom & Friends, which opened in 1986 at New Playwrights Theatre, and moved to the Omni-Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., where it ran for 10 hit years -- and four years on the road, including performances at Don’t Tell Mama and The Triad in NYC. Also in New York, she performed her solo nightclub act Lady Sings the News! at the Ballroom, filling in for Blossom Dearie, appeared in Gary Trudeau’s Tanner for President series on HBO, directed by Robert Altman, and studied musical theatre writing at the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop with Lehman Engel and Maury Yeston.
Her adult musicals include Flush! (1999 Washington Theatre Festival, H.D. Lewis Award) and Tussaud (Winner, 2001 Washington Theatre Festival), writing for the annual Hexagon political revue (since 1976), and The Crystal Palace Revue in Aspen, Colorado. Cushing also penned a political satirical column in Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill: The World According to Mrs. Foggybottom, a high society bat she created to skewer the sacred cows of Washington.
More recently, she has adapted 13 popular children's books as musicals, receiving over 350 productions and two national tours: Miss Nelson Is Missing!, winner of the 2003 National Children’s Theatre Festival; Junie B. Jones & a Little Monkey Business!; Miss Nelson Has a Field Day!; Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood (2007 NY Musical Theatre Festival); Heidi (w playwright Martha King De Silva); all commissioned by Imagination Stage, Lawrence, commissioned by Gabrielino High School; and Brave Irene, commissioned by Adventure Theatre. Other theaters which have produced her work include Seattle Children’s Theatre, Childsplay Theatre, Omaha Theatre Co., Children's Theatre of Charlotte, Dallas Children’s Theatre, Orlando Shakespeare Festival, North Shore Music Theatre, South Coast Repertory, First Stage Milwaukee, Walnut Street Theatre, Stage One Louisville, Nashville Children's Theatre, Oregon Children's Theatre, Manhattan Children's Theatre, and California Theatre Center. According to TYA Magazine, she is “the most produced playwright in children's theatre” and Miss Nelson Is Missing! is “the most produced play.”
In 2002 she worked with Young Playwrights Theatre to help turn their play Pieces of Life, written by local middle school students, into a musical, which was performed at the Kennedy Center and toured the D.C. schools. She was also commissioned by Oak Crest High School to write a musical for 100 girls using Broadway songs, Belles Are Ringing!
Recent works include a brand new script for Tussaud, based on the deliciously gruesome and dark tale of Madame Tussaud; The Christmas Doll, 2007 National Youth Theatre Award for Outstanding Play/Musical, adapted from the book by Elvira Woodruff, world premiere, Children’s Theatre of Charlotte; Lizzie Bright & the Buckminster Boy, adapted from the book by Gary D. Schmidt, New Play Series, First Stage Milwauke; and Ramana’s Garden based on true stories of children in an orphanage in N. India (with Kathy Carroll). Several new commissions received productions this season: Imagination Stage - George & Martha, Tons of Fun (adapted from the book by James Marshall), Oregon Children's Theatre - Diary of a Worm, a Spider & a Fly (adapted from the books by Doreen Cronin). Upcoming: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie - adapted from the book by Laura Numeroff, commissioned by Roanoke Children's Theatre; Rumpelstiltskin, the musical with playwright Martha King De Silva, commissioned by Imagination Stage; and Breast In Show with playwright Lisa Hayes at J.C.C. Theatre, Rockville, MD. Ms. Cushing lives in the Nation's Capital with her husband Paul Buchbinder. When not evacuating for hurricanes, their 19-year-old-son Ben, a gifted writer and musician in his own right, attends Loyola University in New Orleans.