Alex Lippard Co-Writes New Musical

April 8, 2016

Alex Lippard’s ’02 new musical, Queen of Mean: The Rise and Fall of Leona Helmsley, received a staged reading at the Actor’s Temple on April 4 and April 7 featuring four-time Tony nominee Tovah Feldshuh. Lippard wrote the book with David Lee, who also wrote the lyrics, with additional lyrics by Lippard; the music is by Ron Passaro.

Based on a New York Times-bestselling biography by Ransdell Pierson, Queen of Mean follows the rise and fall of infamous billionaire hotelier Leona Helmsley. The musical, which depicts many of the ethically and legally dubious business and personal practices she engaged in, is especially culturally relevant right now due to rampant corporate malfeasance and income inequality on the rise. But the musical also has some elements that make it timeless and compelling: an enormously colorful leading lady, her fascinating rise to power, and the emotional relatability of her drive, her passions and her shortcomings.

In addition to being artistic director of the New York City–based theater company Friendly Fire, Lippard has directed at the Pasadena Playhouse, Altered Stages, the Flea, the Irish Arts Center, the Santa Monica Playhouse, the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Century Center for the Performing Arts, the Directors Company, Joe’s Pub and the Belt Theater. In 2011 he was awarded the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation’s prestigious Mike Ockrent Fellowship, named for the late great Broadway director.  Lippard also won an Overall Excellence in Directing Award at the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival for his direction of Moonchild, starring two-time Emmy winner Heather Tom.

Lippard has taught at NYU/Strasberg Studio, NYU/Atlantic Acting School and the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s training program. In addition to receiving his MFA in Directing at Columbia, he studied directing and acting at Juilliard and the Moscow Art Theater and with the legendary acting teacher Milton Katselas.