Born in New York City, Joan Ross Sorkin is a New York-based musical theatre bookwriter and lyricist, opera librettist, and playwright. In addition to co-writing the book for Bordello, she is the bookwriter and lyricist for Black Swan Blues, a blues-based musical in development. Other musicals include: Monet, In The Theatre, The Real McCoy, and her award-winning family musicals Isabelle and The Pretty Ugly Spell (National Children’s Theatre Award) and Go Green! (Jackie White National Memorial Children’s Play Writing Award-Second Place.) Her musical work has enjoyed multiple productions, readings and workshops in NYC, PA. and FL. Her newest family musical Dandelion will have its premiere in Spring, 2023 in West Hartford, CT.
Her opera credits include Strange Fruit, developed at New York City Opera and commissioned and premiered by Long Leaf Opera; White Witch, premiered at Symphony Space and produced at Salem State University; and The Reef, in development with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis and Finalist for the Domenic J. Pellicciotti Opera Composition Prize with a workshopped planned with Berkshire Opera Festival in Fall, 2023. Joan has two new opera projects, Paradise Bound and Jubilee in development.
Joan began her theatrical career as a playwright and is most proud of her one-woman play with music, (mis)Understanding Mammy: The Hattie McDaniel Story (Emerging Artists Theatre: Drama Desk and Black Theatre Alliance nominations for Capathia Jenkins as Hattie.) Other plays have been produced in NYC and regionally. During the pandemic her new COVID play, This Is Serious, had two Zoom readings (The Schoolhouse Theater and Ken Davenport’s TheaterMakers Studio—nom., Best Play of the Year, 2021). Her COVID song, “One Small Box” was also nominated by TheaterMakers Studio as Best Song of the Year, 2021.
Joan is a proud member of The Dramatists Guild, BMI Musical Theatre Workshop, ASCAP, Opera America, and Maestra, and is the President of the Board of The York Theatre Company.