PLAYS

Awakening: The Story of Kip Van Winkle

Full-length comedy-drama loosely based on Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle.

The Chameleon Princess

One-Act comedy about a princess who sets out to find herself.

Christie

Full-length drama based on Louisa May Alcott’s novel Work.

A Christmas Carol (aka Mr. Scrooge’s Christmas)

Full-length adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novella.

Cinderella, Inc.  

One-act comedy about what happened to Cinderella after she married the prince.

Cocoanut Soup at the Palace,

or If the Marx Brothers Had Performed Oedipus the King

One-act farce in which the Hollywood comics lampoon the Greek classic.

Cold War Comedy
 

A 1950s farcical comedy in two acts that looks at America from an outsider’s point of view: a Russian spy, no less. 

Curst Be He Who Moves My Bones

One-act comedy-drama about Delia Bacon and the search for who wrote Shakespeare’s plays.

David Copperfield  

Full-length adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel.

A Doll’s House

Ninety-minute adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s drama.

The Emperor of North America

Full-length comedy about a writer obsessed with a 19th-century eccentric and War and Peace

The Gift of the Magi

One-act adaptation of O. Henry’s short story

Ghostly Doings on the Menu

Full-length comedy-mystery set in an olde New England inn today.

Great Expectations

 

Full-length adaptation of Charles Dickens' novel.

Jane Eyre

Full-length adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel.

Kangaroo

One-act surreal farce about a murderous kangaroo on an Australian golf course.

The Ladies Declare

One-act comedy about a gathering of famous colonial women in Philadelphia in 1776.

Ladies, Sigh No More

Full-length comedy-drama about a gathering of some of Shakespeare’s female characters.

The Last Leaf

One-act adaptation of O. Henry’s short story.

Little Women

Full-length adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel.

Mankind & Co.

Full-length comedy-drama based an various Greek and Roman myths.

Mr. Scrooge’s Christmas 

See A Christmas Carol

Murder By Membership Only

Full-length murder mystery set in a ladies mystery writers club

Murder By the Book

Full-length murder mystery set in a ladies literary club

Murder in Bloom

Full-length murder mystery set in a small town garden club.

Murder on Reserve

Full-length murder mystery set in a small-town public library.

My Fair Limey

Full-length comedy that resets and reverses the Pygmalion legend in the Old West.

A New Style for Murder

Full-length murder mystery set in a small town beauty parlor.

The Odyssey

Full-length play adaptation of Homer’s epic tale.

On the Boardwalk

Full-length comedy that resets Sheridan’s classic The Rivals in 1910 Atlantic City.

Once Upon a Grapevine

One-act comedy spoofing Little Red Riding Hood and other fairy tales.

Payment for Billy Travers

One-act drama about an outlaw in the Old West with a secret.

Plays of the American Experience

25 short plays dealing with American history.

Popularity

Full-length comedy-drama setting Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice in a 1950s high school.

The Phony Physician

One-act adaptation of Moliere’s farce The Doctor in Spite of Himself.

The Princess and the Pauper

Full-length comic adventure loosely based on Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper.

Richard Blaine, the Merchant of Morocco,

or If Shakespeare Had Written Casablanca

One-act comedy in which the Hollywood classic is retold in an Elizabethan style.

See also Twice the Usual Number of Suspects.

Rutherford Wolf

One-act comedy about an innocent wolf caught in the middle of various fairy tales.

The Secret Garden

Full-length adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's beloved classic.

Six Characters in Search of a Life

One-act comedy about forgotten fairy tale characters looking for recognition.

The Skinflint of Shickshinney

Full-length comedy based on Moliere’s The Miser but set in the Old West.

Soapy Smith’s Winter Wish

One-act adaptation of O. Henry’s short story The Cop and the Anthem.

Standing Room Only

Program of six short comic plays about the theatre.

The Stone Giant

A comic history in two acts about one of the most famous hoaxes of the 19th century: the petrified cave man discovered in rural New York State and dubbed the Stone Giant.

The Stopping at Ellis Island

One-act drama about a group of immigrants trying to enter the United States.

The Swine of Avon

One-act comedy about the most popular pig playwright of all time.

Tartuffe

Ninety-minute adaptation of Moliere’s comedy classic about hypocrisy.

Tiny Tim’s Christmas

Full-length sequel to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol set in New York City.

Treasure Island Makeover

Full-length farce about an all-girls high school’s dress rehearsal of the famous adventure tale.

Twice the Usual Number of Suspects

Two one-act farces that can be presented together or separately:

• Richard Blaine, the Merchant of Morocco, or If Shakespeare Had Written Casablanca

• Cocoanut Soup at the Palace, or If the Marx Brothers Had Performed Oedipus the King

The Unexpected Reformation of Jimmy Valentine

One-act play based on an acclaimed O. Henry short story

Who Killed the Taxman?

One-act farce in which several characters in a small town think they’ve committed a murder.

Willabella Witch’s Last Spell

One-act comedy about a fairy tale witch who tries to retire from witchcraft.

Writers’ Runaround

Six short comic plays about the literary world.

 

Press and Reviews

CUTV News Radio:  Podcast Interview

1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year

Internet Movie Database:

Marquis Who’s Who Lifetime Achievement:

Goodreads Author Page:

Amazon Author Page:

Reviews:  1939 - Hollywood's Greatest Year

Oft-published Hischak (100 Greatest American Plays) returns with this sizable account of a tremendous year in American film history. It’s long been a truism that 1939 was the finest year for Golden Age Hollywood. It saw the release of Beau Geste, Gone with the Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Ninotchka, Stagecoach, and The Wizards of Oz, among others. Hischak goes through 1939 day by day, juxtaposing national and world news with information on all 510 films Hollywood released that year. This is an interesting exercise.... [T]he book’s encyclopedism does a great job in providing context for some favorite films, and its inclusion of every single title makes the staying power of those like Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz all the more extraordinary. It’s likely that die-hard film buffs will appreciate Hischak’s project[.] (Publishers Weekly)

With 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year, author Thomas S. Hischak has created a veritable film almanac of this year. He chronicles the release dates, important filming dates of certain movies, and a meticulous description of plots, cast and characters and a personal and press analysis of each film, short, or cartoon. His writing style and research is phenomenal. Not only has Hischak provided all of that he gives the reader [when a film wasn't opening on that day in 1939] a very informative glimpse of history outside the Hollywood gates. Whether it's the oncoming rise of Hitler in Germany, The Spanish Civil War or what was happening in Japan or China, his clarity and knowledge of the year puts it all into perspective. There are also cultural events in theater, literature and sports in the mix. There is no need to 'turn back time'; just realize that in 1939 a remarkable amount of silver screen history and world and cultural history was being made. Thomas S. Hischak takes you down the 'yellow brick road' in a fascinating way. (EDGE)

Review: The Oxford Companion to the the American Musical

Hischak, author of 16 books on theater, film, and popular music, offers an informative look at American (and some non-American) musicals as they have been presented on stage, screen, and television. In his preface, he illustrates how the American musical has evolved over the past 140 years from the “five-hour-long extravaganza,” The Black Crook, in 1866, to the popular teenybopper television event, High School Musical 2, in 2007.  Entries are well researched and written. Among the 2,000-plus entries are those for composers, performers, directors, choreographers, etc., and for individual musical works. The personal entries feature basic biographical information and chronicle the works the artists helped create in a readable narrative style. The remaining entries are for musical-theater works, with particular emphasis on those produced in more than one medium (e.g., The King and I,  Little Shop of Horrors, etc.) Informative histories of the musicals are followed by  separate entries for productions in different media, helping the reader to focus attention on the history of each, and Hischak notes the similarities and differences and highlights the advantages or pitfalls of one medium over the other. He precedes each work entry with a theater, film, or television icon for easy identification. Hischak also lists cast members for the major musicals, including the important stage, television, and film performers, along with dates of the productions; and in some cases, he lists the important songs. Useful appendixes include “Chronology of Musicals,” “Awards,” and “Guide to Recordings.” There are many encyclopedias on Broadway and musical-theater themes, most notably The Virgin Encyclopedia of Stage and Film Musicals (1999), Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre (2d ed., 2001), and Broadway Musicals, 1943–2004 (2006). Hischak’s new volume adds to this group admirably by offering more up-to-date works and expanding beyond Broadway. Recommended for public and academic libraries. --Steven York (BOOKLIST)

Reviews: The Disney Song Encyclopedia

This impressive volume describes more than 900 songs written for Disney movies, videos, musicals, television shows, recordings, and theme parks....No other volume offers a comprehensive list or description of Disney songs. Recommended for large performing arts collections. (Booklist)

This first of its kind, this small volume of annotated entries succinctly describes 940 original songs used to date by Disney in its films, television programs, home videos, stage musicals, and more. . . . Hischak is a prolific scholar of popular music and the theater. Being paired here with a first-time author and Disney connoisseur has resulted in a worthwhile and entertaining resource. (American Reference Books Annual)

Hischak (Oxford Companion to American Musical) and Robinson (independent theatre and film scholar) offer descriptions of over 900 Disney songs featured in film, on television, and in their theme parks since 1930. Organized alphabetically by song title, paragraph-long entries detail writers, original context, publication date, and notable performers. For easier entry location, various appendixes give an alternate title list, a song writer's directory, film or program listings, and a guide to various recorded formats. Most at home in collections for Disney enthusiasts or cultural studies scholars. (Library Journal)

Scarecrow has produced a well-bound, well-printed book for the library reference shelf….One page after page, old memories are evoked- memories of time and place beyond the movie or production…. Recommended for libraries with any kind of performing arts collection….Recommend this to future princesses, princes, and the menagerie of Disney fans. (Fontes Artis Musicae)

 

The authors compile over 900 songs, from Disney's earliest cartoons-the ones we all know by heart-to the latest Disney productions like High School Musical , and provides a paragraph about each. . . . As you browse through the book, you realize how influential "Uncle Walt" was on American popular music. (In The Groove)

The book is laid out in clear fashion.... This is a work that should appear in music libraries and academic institutions that have courses covering modern and popular music. I certainly recommend it for purchase for public libraries where readers will find it quite a difficult to put down book. ("American Reference Books Annual")

Reviews: The Encyclopedia of Film Composers

Hischak offers a unique combination of opinion and painstaking research. The author asserts that film composers deserve further recognition for their influence and contributions. His objective is to fill a gap, covering hundreds of lesser-known composers. Included are 252 individuals who either created a significant number of film scores or who mainly composed in other genres but also had notable film score success. Each entry includes a biography; a discussion of the subject's work that includes Hischak's perspective on, for example, which piece was most memorable; feature film credits, including Academy Award, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and the Golden Globe Award nominations and wins; the director; and country where the movie was produced. It's critical to read the book's introduction to understand that if an artist created the score with three or more composers, for example, it was not included on the list. Closing the volume are comprehensive name and title indexes, necessary for a book with so much detail. Verdict: Hischak's offering presents a wide scope of composers, and anyone who loves film and has previous knowledge of music and/or film will be delighted by its content. (Library Journal)

 

This hefty volume focuses solely on the creators of movie music. From the early silent films to today's blockbusters, accompanying music often draws as much attention as the films themselves and sometimes outlives the pictures in both popular culture and film history. Herein are more than 250 alphabetically arranged entries on composers from all over the world, covering the entire spectrum of cinema history. Entries are generally a few pages in length and contain biographical information, chronological career highlights, and an analysis of the musical style of the composer, and they end with a comprehensive list of film scores. This list is also valuable for indicating the director(s) and country of production for each film as well as any awards won by the composer or nominations for awards. Alternative or English titles are given for foreign films, if any. Although a smattering of composers here will be recognizable to the general user - Henry Mancini, Marvin Hamlisch, and Randy Newman, perhaps - most will likely be unknown. For example, who was responsible for the memorable music in The Wizard of Oz, Psycho, Gone with the Wind, and Lawrence of Arabia? This tome provides the detailed answers: Herbert Stohart, Bernand Herrmann, Max Steiner, and Maurice Jarre, respectively. A user can quickly see what other film scores these composers are responsible for and examine the arc of their careers. Other features include some black-and-white pictures and both a name and title index for quickly locating a particular film or person. . . .The Encyclopedia of Film Composers is recommended as an interesting addition to the reference collection of academic and public libraries and anywhere film is being studied. (Booklist)

Reviews: Broadway Plays and Musicals

Hischak’s aim is to “describe every Broadway production . . . over the past eighty-eight years’”and he hits a bull’s-eye with this comprehensive (work) . . . This rich resource supplies the necessary facts needed when embarking on a study of the American theater. Recommended (Booklist/RBB)

Informative...essential  No other single-volume work is as comprehensive in covering both musical and nonmusical formats. (Choice)

I can’t imagine a book this detailed being published again for many years. A must for libraries and those interested in musical theater. (In The Groove Magazine)

 

This truly is a reference history of New York city’s famous Broadway district. Few (books) have covered all of the activities of Broadway. This is what makes this volume special, especially for reference value.  (ARBA)

Reviews: The Rodgers and Hammerstein Encyclopedia

The reader will be overwhelmed by the thoroughness and detail found in this work. Historians also will be impressed by the scope of the material in this work as it paints a broad picture of the musical theater during and before Rodgers and Hammerstein's time. Those who cannot get enough of information and trivia about Broadway and the musical theater will devour this book. (American Reference Books Annual)

           

The amazingly productive Hischak, author/editor of 15 theater books to date, turns his attention to two giants of the American musical theater in a work that more aptly should be titled “The Rodgers and Hammerstein and Kern and Hart et al. Encyclopedia,” in that this volume is not limited to shows and films written by the title duo but also encompasses those of their collaborators. The alphabetically arranged, brief entries (100-300 words, with longer entries for specific shows) cover every stage, film, and television project in which either person was involved, as well as entries on notable performers, librettists, songsters, and specific songs, with numerous cross-references. Of particular interest are entries covering such specialized topics as ethnicity, settings, and list songs. Appendixes list Rodgers and Hammerstein's awards and recordings, and the index is particularly useful. Hischak's writing style is both informative and fascinating, with just enough subjectivity to keep users browsing. Music lovers will appreciate the attention he pays to song recordings not from cast albums. This will be an indispensable guide to this most American genre for all theater and music collections. Highly recommended. All undergraduates and general readers. (Choice)

Review: Word Crazy: Broadway Lyricists from Cohan to Sondheim

Hischak . . . presents a lively and insightful analysis of the careers and major works of Broadway's most notable lyricists –Cohan, Berlin, Gershwin, Lerner, Harnick and others. Hischak is able . . .  to analyze numerous examples, to capture the spirit of the works he discusses, and illuminate the story of this heretofore little-appreciated aspect of musical theater. (Publisher’s Weekly)

 

Hischak reviews the achievements of the men and women who wrote the words for the songs in American musicals of the 20th century. . . . He devotes separate chapters to 21 of the more prominent lyricists (such as Oscar Hammerstein II, Ira Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, Alan Jay Lerner, and Stephen Sondhiem) and illustrates how each built upon the work of earlier writers or took a different approach. Happily, he does not limit himself to the better-known lyricists. In four chapters he gives briefer treatment to 56 other lyricists (e.g., Carolyn Leigh, Martin Charnin, Joe Darion). Will prove a good supplemental addition in all collections on the musical theater. (Choice).

Reviews: The Jerome Kern Encyclopedia

Hischak credits Kern in the preface with creating "the sound of the American musical," which is the case he attempts to make with this sorely overdue reference work. In prose that is not overly academic, articles cover Kern's musicals, songs, and collaborators, including performers with meaningful connections to the composer. Musicals are consistently presented with information on style, author, lyricist, location and date of debut performance, run, alternate productions and revivals, and key performers; following is a summary of the plot and history of the production, highlighting songs important to the plot or to Kern's career. Overall, the entries about songs are nontechnical, but occasionally dabble in soft music theory. The author instead addresses the song's history: use in a production, notable performances, and appearances in other musicals or innominate interpolations. Hischak introduces performers and collaborators by their connection to Kern, and then expands on their careers with further contextual information. Photographs appear throughout, with excellent captioning providing additional information unavailable in the accompanying article. The highly useful appendixes cover the chronology of Kern's awards, musicals, interpolations, and discography. Extensive bibliography and thorough indexing. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above. (Choice)

 

This volume offers practically one-stop shopping for music students and Jerome Kern enthusiasts. The main body of the work includes entries for songs, stage works, films, and musical styles. Hischak, a veteran musical-theater author, has added biographical sketches for many of Kern’s collaborators—including directors, performers, lyricists, and producers—taking care to put them in context with their work with Kern. A discography, a chronology, and an awards list are added value for this useful text. (Booklist)

Review: The Off Broadway Musical Since 1919

In this needed complement to Larry Stempel's recent Showtime: A History of the Broadway Musical Theatre, Hischak (theater, SUNY at Cortland; Theatre as Human Action: An Introduction to Theatre Arts) surveys nearly 400 musicals, providing opening dates, authors, composers, and cast members. The synopses are concise and informative and, occasionally and enjoyably, snarky (do not invite him to your theater's production of Nunsense or any of its sequels). For the musical-obsessed and the libraries that love them, an appendix listing recordings (LP, CD, and DVD) is provided, together with a brief bibliography. Hischak explains that off-Broadway musicals offer "a more direct kind of music, dance, and comedy" than Broadway shows and often display a more direct connection to the times through music in a more intimate forum. Verdict: Your catalogers may be tempted to place this book in the reference section, but it needs to circulate because patrons will want to take it home to make lists of shows to discover, from Alfred Brooks and Ira J. Bilowit's 1958 Of Mice and Men to Menopause: The Musical. An essential purchase. (Library Journal)

Awards and Honors

Outstanding Reference Work citation for Musicals in Film: A Guide to the Genre by the American Library Association, 2017.

 

One of the six best Arts and Literature books of 2016 citation for Musicals in Film: A Guide to the Genre by the School Library Journal.

 

Winner of the AACT NewPlay Fest for The Emperor of North America, 2016.

 

Recipient of a SUNY Global Grant to teach at Anadolu University, Eskisehir, Turkey, May 2013.

 

Outstanding Achievement in Research Award, SUNY Cortland, 2010.         

 

Outstanding Reference Sources, Booklist, for Broadway Plays and Musicals, 2010.

 

Julie Harris Playwriting Award (Beverly Hills Theatre Guild) for The Cardiff Giant, 2010.

 

Outstanding Reference Book, American Library Association, for Broadway Plays and Musicals, 2009.

 

Best Reference Books of 2009 citation, Library Journal, for The Disney Song Encyclopedia (co-written with Mark A. Robinson).

 

The Oxford Companion to the American Musical named one of the Best 25 Reference  Books of 2008, by the New York Public Library, 2009.

 

Named a Fulbright Senior Specialist by the Council for International Exchange of  Scholars, 2002. Taught and directed American theatre in Greece in 2008 and Lithuania in 2011.

 

Chancellor’s Award (SUNY) for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activity, 2004.  

 

Outstanding Academic Book, Choice Magazine, American Library Association, for The  American Musical Theatre Song Encyclopedia, 1995.

 

Stanley Drama Award (playwriting) for Cold War Comedy, 1995.     

                  

Listed in Dictionary of International Biography, Marquis Who’s Who in Entertainment;  Who’s Who in American Publications; International Authors; Who’s Who in America; Writers Who’s Who; Contemporary Authors; and Who’s Who in American Education.

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CONTACT

For any media inquiries, please contact Thomas S. Hischak at:

hischakt@cortland.edu

thischak@flagler.edu

Website Designed by Mark A. Robinson / Photo By Karen Hischak