Bram Lewis, Producing Director
BERTON BRAMLETTE "BRAM" LEWIS
Bram was born in July 1953 on a farm in Lebanon, Ohio and educated at The Buckley School in New York City, St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire, and at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, England. He was assistant to Ted Mann at Circle in the Square Theatre on Broadway, and then assistant to Hugh Southern at the Theatre Development Fund. Besides playing the recurring role of Jocko on One Life to Live for ABC, he also did 45 national network commercials and voiceovers, and then played Freddie on the NBC primetime series Tattingers written by multiple Emmy-award winner Tom Fontana.
During the next ten years, he acted in and directed over 40 dramas, comedies, classics, revivals and world premieres nationally and internationally, from London to New York to L.A. and back again.
He then founded The Phoenix Theatre Company which became one of the most prestigious theatres in America over the next decade. At its inception, during the crash of 1987, the company began with only 250 subscribers, no corporate, foundation, or government support of any kind. Thanks to early and vocal praise from Helen Hayes, the company started selling out. By the end of a decade, in its facility at the Performing Arts Center, SUNY/Purchase, subscriptions topped 10,000- a record unequaled in the county of Westchester then or since.
A short list of Stars who worked for and supported the company include: Alan Arkin, Ellen Burstyn, Billy Crudup, Ruby Dee, George Grizzard, Julie Harris, Rosemary Harris, Helen Hayes, Kevin Kline, Michael Patrick King, Carrie Nye, Jason Robards, and Elaine Stritch. Celebrated directors included John Barton (founder The Royal Shakespeare Company), Liviu Ciulei (founder the Bulandra Theatre of Bucharest), Marcia Milgrom Dodge (President of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers), Jose Quintero (founder of Circle in the Square), and Ellis Rabb (founder of the APA-the first non-profit rep company on Broadway).
The Phoenix Theatre achieved more than 60 glowing notices and reviews from The New York Times, Gannett, NY Post, NY Daily News, The Village Voice as well as a multi- page spread in the nationally syndicated magazine “Theatre Week”. Additionally, Mr. Lewis also created and hosted “In The Wings”, a weekly TV talk show devoted to The Phoenix and to theatre in general. It ran on Westchester cable and aired to over 250,000 households.
Concurrently, Mr. Lewis also taught acting at many conservatories including the American Academy of Musical and Dramatic Arts, The Actor's Space, The T. Schreiber Studios, as well as being an adjunct professor at the State University of New York (SUNY Purchase).
Additionally, he created workshops and master-classes devoted to acting for the Phoenix Theatre, with Alan Arkin (improv), Ellen Burstyn (acting technique), Ruby Dee (Scene Study), Jose Quintero and Jason Robards (O’Neil workshop), and many master- classes with John Barton, Harriet Walter, Kevin Kline, Sam Waterston and others on Playing Shakespeare....which subsequently were produced at The Public Theatre and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
For the past seven years, Bram has run The Schoolhouse Theater and Art Center in Croton Falls, New York. Dubbed "The Venerable Schoolhouse Theater" by none other than The New York Times, the Theater is elegantly situated, high on a hill, in an old elementary school and has a charming one-of-a-kind history. It is the oldest professional Theater in Westchester: 38 years and counting. Many gifted folk from World Theater have found a home here. John Barton from The Royal Shakespeare Company, Tony Award Winner Jim Dale, Tony Award Winner Dasha Epstein, Multiple Emmy Award Winner Emily Kingsley (Sesame Street), Legendary Actor/Comedian Robert Klein, and Tony Award Winner Richard Maltby Jr., to name just a few.
Bram’s focus until the Pandemic hit, was on new plays that could test their mettle, new-fired in the safety and security of the Schoolhouse. In other words, we are a place where things begin. In the past four years, three of our productions have moved on to find new life off-Broadway; BH Barry's The Enlightenment of Mr. Mole (The Sheen Center); Stevie Holland and Gary William Friedman's Love, Linda (The Triad), and then our third show to move in as many years, Lois Robbin's L.O.V.E.R (The Griffin Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center).
Two other highly successful productions at the Schoolhouse which have generated discussion for future life downtown are: Gladstone Hollow by Emmy Award winner Dorothy Lyman and The Color of Light by highly acclaimed author and journalist Jesse Kornbluth.
Since the onset of Covid 19, all Theaters have shut their doors across America. In the late Spring of 2020, Bram initiated weekly Zoom readings with New York’s best and brightest Actors for the benefit of subscribers from Croton Falls to St.Louis to L.A and back again. To date, more than 130 plays have been delivered for free from the team of Actors we have baptized as "The Pandemic Players".
Owen Thompson, Artistic Director
Owen is so proud to be leading our ‘little theater on a hill’ with his true brother Bram Lewis and is dedicated to bringing the absolute finest theatrical experiences here to Croton Falls. Owen is incredibly grateful to our audiences for supporting us through our first post-Covid season in which he directed James Sheldon’s wonderful evening of one-act plays (3-Way Stop) as well as our season opener: John Logan’s Red. Red has recently won nine 2023 BroadwayWorld Regional Theater Awards, including Best Play, Best Director, Best Performer, Best Supporting Performer, Best Designers, and Favorite Local Theater. Schoolhouse also presented Joan Ross Sorkin’s (mis)Understanding Mammy: the Hattie McDaniel Story, starring Tina Fabrique and directed by Seret Scott, which was also nominated at the 2023 BroadwayWorld Awards. In 2024, Schoolhouse will present the World Premiere of Barbara Dana’s What Keeps Us Going, directed by Austin Pendleton, followed by two twentieth-century masterpieces: Athol Fugard’s ‘Master Harold’…and the Boys and Brian Friel's Faith Healer, both of which Owen is thrilled to be directing.
Owen's theatrical productions have been seen all over New York City and in regional theaters across America. He served as the Artistic Director of NYC’s acclaimed Protean Theatre Company, whose productions were lauded by the New York Times, The New York Post's Clive Barnes, TimeOut New York, the Village Voice, BackStage Magazine, and several other prestigious publications. He also spent many years as Producing Director of The River Rep at the historic Ivoryton Playhouse in Essex, Connecticut. River Rep was a revitalizing force in professional Connecticut theater and presented over one hundred productions at Ivoryton, helping to save that historic theater from the wrecking ball and allowing it to continue to thrive well into the 21st century. Additionally, Owen developed many original works as producer and literary manager of new plays for Off-Broadway's illustrious TACT (The Actors Company Theatre).
Owen is also an educator with two post-graduate degrees in classical dramatic literature and has taught in several institutions of higher learning, including Fordham University, Marymount Manhattan College, and CUNY’s New York City College of Technology as well as in the New York City Public School system.
In 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, Owen created the popular Shakespeare podcast, The Bardcast: "It's Shakespeare, You Dick!" which he co-hosts with Lisa Ann Goldsmith. The Bardcast received the New York Shakespeare Award for Best Podcast of 2021 and has thousands of listeners around the world. It can be heard on every major platform and at www.thebardcastyoudick.com
Owen grew up in a theatrical family as the child of Broadway actors Joan Shepard and Evan Thompson, and at the age of nineteen he founded The Facemakers, an avant-garde theater company that flourished in the downtown NYC arts scene of the 1980s and produced several celebrated shows including a notorious revival of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest starring the iconic Quentin Crisp as Lady Bracknell.
As Producing Director of the River Rep Theatre Company, Owen produced or co-produced more than one hundred productions over the course of two decades, several of which he directed, including a smash hit revival of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado, for which he received the Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical.
Owen also founded New York City’s Protean Theatre Company, for whom he produced and directed numerous productions including the critically acclaimed American Premiere of the previously lost Restoration Comedy The London Cuckolds, the Jacobean thriller The Revenger’s Tragedy, an evening of Shavian one-acts called George Bernard Shaw’s Fictitious History, Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet and Molière’s outrageous farce The Doctor in Spite of Himself, for which he also wrote a much-praised modern adaptation
In addition to directing, Owen has also produced many revivals in New York City, including the American Premiere of Christopher Hampton's When Did You Last See My Mother?, Joseph Stein’s Enter Laughing, Clark Gestner’s You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Noël Coward’s Hay Fever, Eugene Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano, Bock & Harnick’s She Loves Me, and a long list of plays by George Bernard Shaw including Great Catherine, The Man of Destiny, The Dark Lady of the Sonnets, Overruled, and Arms and the Man. He also produced several plays receiving their first New York appearances for The Actors Company Theatre.
Although he no longer appears onstage (unless asked very nicely), Owen enjoyed a lengthy career as an actor, performing major roles in dozens of productions in New York City and in regional theaters across America, playing in everything from Shakespeare to contemporary drama to musical comedy. Over a long span of time, his favorite roles have included the title character in 'Master Harold'...and the Boys, John Adams in 1776, and Sir John Falstaff in Shakespeare's Henry IV, pt.1 and pt. 2, among others too numerous to name.
Owen lives in Manhattan with his beautiful and brilliant wife Leda Zukowski, a Vice President at Morgan Stanley, their rescue cat Harry, and a family of squirrels whom they seem to have inadvertently adopted.