based on the book written & illustrated by Shirley Hughes

Script, Music & Lyrics by Joan Cushing


                                In this world premiere musical infused with the dance and fashions of the Roaring ‘20s,

                                       Ella’s  new  stepmother and sisters   snap up the dazzling dresses  she designs,  but don’t

                                       think she’s worthy of their glamorous life.When the Duke proves them wrong, Ella must  

                                       look inside to choose the right path for herself.


                              "Charlotte has made theater history...[a] mesmeric production."  Charlotte Observer                                                                       


View youtube promo


                             World Premier Children's Theatre of Charlotte                                                        Directed by Adam Burke

                                                                                     "Stitch By Stitch"                                                               Photos by Donna Bise


"Cinder's Dress Shop"

"Doing the Grizzly Bear"




"I'd Rather Charleston With You"


"All I See Is You"






Based on the book by Kelly DiPucchio

Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Script, Music & Lyrics by Joan Cushing


                                               The Democracy Rap - youtube Video



"Grace deserves your vote."  Lawrence Toppman

Charlotte Observer Review


One day in class, Grace Campbell discovered there has never been a female president. “Where are the girls?” she asked, as her third-grade teacher rolls out a poster of all 44 U.S. presidents. Frustrated by the lack of female faces in the White House, Grace decides she wants to be president and inspires a school election. She seems the likely winner until the most popular boy runs against her. Through the throes of campaigning and pep rallies, service projects and posters, Grace and her classmates discover what it takes to be the best candidate and find the fun and hilarity in the wonderful world of politics!  


             World Premier Children's Theatre of Charlotte                                          Directed by Michelle Hoppe Long

Photos by Donna Bise


"The Democracy Rap"


"The Presidents' Song"

 Rowing George Washington across the Delaware


                                        "Where Are the Girls?"                   "It All Adds Up" (an electoral college lesson)


                             "Boys! Boys! Boys!" Barbershop Quartet             "Grace Campbell for President!"


                                       "The Great State of Texas"                 Rose: "...AND she's my best friend."


                                            "My Vote Counts"                                And the winner is....


                                     "I Had a Star Spangled Idea"      



The all girl design team


The Amazing Cast of Grace

3rd from L, Margaret Dalton, Sean Powell, Talia Robinson, Claire Hilton, Shivam Patel, Joe Hernandez, Kendall Payne

plus  Michelle Hoppe Long (Dir), Me, Drina Walters Keen (Mus Dir), Ashlyn Keller (Choeographer)


"Grace" Cast and Design Team


Talia Robinson as Grace



101 Dalmatians

based on the book by Dodi DeSanto

Script by Martha King de Silva

Music & Lyrics by Joan Cushing


              World Premiere by Imagination Stage                                                           Directed by Janet Stanford

Photos by Scot Suchman


"I've Got Plans  For You"



              Co-opening with Children's Theatre of Charlotte                                               Directed by Adam Burke

                                                                       Photos by Donna Bise







Breast in Show, yes, a hot new musical about breast cancer! Script by Lisa Hayes, Music & Lyrics by J. Cushing, Directed by Katherine Chase Bryer, produced by Eileen Mitchard.  Performances at JCC Theatre October 14 & 15.  

      90 min, Cast of 6 (4f, 2m), Orchestrations for 5 (keyboard, drums, trumpet, trombone, reeds - flute/clarinet/sax)  

                                                             See Voices.   See Breast In



George & Martha, Tons of Fun based on the collection of stories by James Marshall (Miss Nelson Is Missing).  Commissioned and produced by Imagination Stage. Directed by Katherine Chase Bryer. April 6 to May 28, 2011.  George & Martha, two hippopotami, do everything together, with the same ups and downs in true friendship as humans.  They teach each other that privacy is important, practical jokes can sometimes backfire, and pouring split pea into your loafers to spare the chef's feelings is not the best laid plan.  Gentle stories framed by a vaudeville cabaret.  Cast of 5.    Review George and Martha: Tons of Fun at Imagination Stage | Maryland Theatre Guide  See Photos.  Also, see YouTube Video.


          Michael John Casey as George, Sandra L. Murphy as Martha        Kate Guesman as Pig, Nickolas Vaughan as Croc, Dereks Thomas as Dog


Directed by Katherine Chase Bryer, Choreographed by Scott Rink, Set Design by Milagros Ponce de Leon, Sound Design by Chris Baine, Lighting Design by Cory Ryan Frank, Stage Direction by Kristen Bishel, Costumes by Debra Kim Sivigny, Musical Direction by Deborah Jacobson, Orchestrations by Debbie Wicks La Puma, Photos by Scott Suchman

Diary of a Worm, a Spider & a Fly, based on the books by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Harry Bliss.  Commissioned by Oregon Children's Theatre.  Directed by Stan Foote.  Is Spider getting too big for his own skin? Will Fly find her superhero powers in time to save her Aunt Rita from peril? Will Worm learn to stand on his own two feet…even though he doesn’t have feet?  We invite you to take a look at the world from a bug’s perspective.  Perhaps you’ll see that their lives are not all that different from yours. This world première musical captures all of the droll humor and whimsy of the wildly popular books. 


                                               "A smart new musical by Joan Cushing...Rap, hip-hop, smart ballads,

                                                                and boogie woogie  spill  across  the stage in this  slick, witty, and

                                                                charming show using  one of  the most striking sets  ever crafted

                                                                on the Newmark Stage,made up of 90 percent recycled materials. 

                                                                Set Designer Gene Dent  also  dazzles  us  with ...  a  universe  of          

                                                                sparkling lights that seems never-ending."  The Oregonian.


                                                      For full Reviews, Oregon Children's Theatre. 


                                                                 Also see YouTube Video.  


                                                                           Cast of 6. 


Upcoming productions:  First Stage Children's Theatre (Milwaukee), Dallas Children's Theatre + National Tour, Theatre for Young America (Kansas), Main Street Theatre (Houston), Magik Children's Theatre (San Antonio), Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse (Rock Island, IL), James Madison Children's Playhouse (Madison, VA), Growing Stage, Omaha Theatre Co. for Young People National Tour.

     Oregon Children's Theatre, Portland, OR                         Directed by Stan Foote                        Set and Lighting Design by Gene Dent


Ramana's Garden, a new musical with collaborator Kathy Carroll, based on the true stories of children in an orphanage in Northern India, with an Indian-flavored score. Staged Reading was July 16 at Adventure Theatre, directed by Lynn Sharp Spears with a 5-piece Indian band. Proceeds to benefit Ramanas Garden. See or  Founded by Hollywood actress Maggie O'Hara, now known as Dr. Prabhavati Dwabha, the orphanage is located in the foothills of the Himalayas, overlooking the sacred Ganges River, and serves destitute children.  Prabhavati was in attendance.

Rufus Juskus on guitar and harmonium, Gordon Coupe on guitar & percussion, Debue Nayak on tablas & percussion

Heidi, the musical, based on a classic story, with playwright Martha King De Silva (music & lyrics by Cushing) and commissioned by Imagination Stage, who gave it a gorgous world premiere production this past spring.   Children, as well as adults, who remember this classic and moving story, from their childhood, were enchanted.   75 minutes.  All ages.                View Washington Times Review

                                                                                                                            View YouTube Video                 


Tara Giordano as Heidi, & Goats                              Peter Boyer, Ann Marie Pinto, Tara Giordano, Doug Wilder, Chris Wilson, Sandy Murphy

      Photos by Scot Suchman


 Tara Giordano as Heidi, terrence Currier as Grandfather                                  Tara, Kathryn Guseman, Chris Wilson

Miss Nelson Is Missing! - A brand new 65 minute version of Miss Nelson opened at Imagination Stage, where it all began, for its 100th production.  Now we are aat over 400 productions!  In this version, Viola Swamp takes the misbehaving students on the field trip of their lives, to The Museum of Crime (Dragnet theme) and Punishment!  Will the Kids of 207 ever get their beloved teacher back, or will they end up behind bars?  See it and find out.  Miss Nelson also travelled to China with California Theatre Center.

      11/28/08 Washington Post Review/Imagination Stage.         2/10/11 New York Times Review/Atlantic Theatre Co./NYC

    The Crime & Punishment Tango! - Helen Hedman/Viola, Matthew A. Anderson/Al Catraz                 View YouTube Video .


                      Petite Rouge/London                   Director Jeff Frank & Cast of Lizzie Bright       Ramana's Garden            The Christmas Doll      

back to page top