A Conversation With Steve Broadnax
At a time when many Americans seem discouraged or worn down by pandemic illnesses, Broadnax’s cheer is refreshing and infectious. He grew up attending theatre shows with his grandmother.
He currently serves as resident director at People’s Light in Malvern and Ensemble Studio Theater NYC, and will direct Katori Hall’s 2021 Pulitzer Prize premiere, THE HOT WING KING at Signature Theatre as well as Lee Edward Colston’s The First Deep Breath at Vineyard Theatre.
Early Life and Education
Steve Broadnax first developed an interest in theater as a child, attending shows at Little Rock Repertory Theatre with his grandmother and graduating Parkview High School. Now, he serves as associate professor and head of MFA Acting at Penn State University.
His latest show, “Marie and Rosetta”, delves deep into the relationships, racism, and faith discussed between two gospel powerhouses – Rosetta Tharpe and Marie Knight – while providing an emotional musical performance. A must see!
Broadnax serves as director of bands at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, where he leads Wind Ensemble, Chamber winds and graduate wind conducting programs. Additionally, he acts as guest conductor and clinician – having presented residency conducting seminars at Michigan State University among others.
He has directed world premiere productions at Signature Theatre NYC, Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, Syracuse Stage and Ensemble Studio Theatre Company NYC. Additionally, he serves as associate artistic director and co-head of MFA Directing program at People’s Light in Malvern PA.
Broadnax keeps audiences laughing on Michael Carnahan’s comfortable set, featuring living and kitchen areas, an upstairs bedroom, and outdoor basketball hoop. A superb ensemble cast expertly manipulates this piece without ever becoming mawkish or preachy.
Even though this play takes place 15 years ago, its themes remain relevant today. Katori Hall (Tina Turner musical and Starz’s P-Valley) stars as ambitious freelance journalist Judith who searches for stories that will advance her career.
Achievement and Honors
As a child, Broadnax sang and danced; played the tenor saxophone in his school marching band; wrote and directed plays; his grandmother, an former Little Rock classroom teacher who held various political offices and served on Pulaski County Quorum Court, encouraged him to pursue his passions and invest in his education.
He has worked as an actor, director and writer throughout his career both nationally and internationally. His writing credits include The Hip Hop Project which toured nationally as part of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival as well as Camouflage (Eugene O?Neill semi-finalist).
As recently as recently, he has directed world premiere productions such as Dominique Morisseau?s Mud Row and William Jackson Harper?s Travisville for world premier. Upcoming projects include Katori Hall?s The Hot Wing King on Broadway and Keenan Scott II’s Thoughts of a Colored Man at People?s Light.
Broadnax was known to sing, dance, act and play the tenor saxophone in marching bands from an early age; his grandmother took notice and helped enroll him at Parkview Arts Science Magnet High School where he studied performing arts.
He went on to win several honors at university, including best student. Since then he has written several plays including The Hip Hop Project which toured nationally and was showcased at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Washington DC; also several full-length original plays such as AMERICAN TABOO and Camouflage (Eugene O’Neill semi-finalist).
Broadnax made his Broadway directorial debut with Katori Hall’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Thoughts of a Colored Man in 2021. This play explores themes which resonated closely with Broadnax’s personal journey toward redefinition of masculinity.
Broadnax, most known for his work at the UAPB Theatre Center as an author and director, also holds several notable affiliations: an active board member with Theatre Development Fund as well as trustee for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids.
Broadnax also co-chairs the Multicultural Task Force of Broadway League. He remains dedicated to his community, dedicating much of his time and efforts towards service-oriented activities that assist struggling performers.
He is currently directing Marie and Rosetta at TheatreSquared in Fayetteville, Arkansas. This play-with-music follows gospel powerhouse Sister Rosetta Tharpe as she mentors Marie Knight; Broadnax feels personally attached to this production and hopes it finds great success.