James Edward Lyons

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James Edward Lyons has been active as an author and director in the German theater scene for the past 25 years. A graduate of Wesleyan University in Connecticut, Lyons was granted a Fulbright Scholarship to study directing at the Folkwangschule in Essen, Germany. As an assistant director at the Duesseldorfer Schauspielhaus he had the opportunity of working with several reknowned German directors. He collaborated on the European Premiere of 'Childen of a Lesser God' and opened his own German directing career in 1982 with the first German production of Sam Shepard's 'True West'. Directing credits include 'A Streetcar Named Desire' in his own new German translation, as well the German Premiere of Terence McNally's 'Master Class' at the Staatstheater Stuttgart.  

In his 16-year artistic collaboration with singer/comedienne Ortrud Beginnen, James Edward Lyons co-wrote and staged numerous cabaret musicals and satirical shows, beginning in 1983 under the artistic director Claus Peymann at the Schauspielhaus Bochum. During a wave of neonazi violence in Germany in 1993, Lyons and Beginnen brought their biting musical satire 'Sing, German Maidens!' ('Wir Maedel singen') to the stage at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg. In a commissioned play for the prestigious Burgtheater in Vienna, 'The Crown Jewels', Beginnen portraited a madwoman who reinstates the Austrian monarchy. Since the death of Ms. Beginnen in 1999, Lyons has gone on to put together a number of successful musical biographies and reviews.

The list of his musical biographies includes the 1920's cabaret singer Claire Waldoff, western legend Calamity Jane, and 60's rock singer Janis Joplin. For the Rheingau Music Festival he wrote and staged musical portraits of the composer Ralph Benatzky ('The White Horse Inn') and operetta legend Fritzi Massary. His authorized, intimate portrait of the singer-actress Hildegard Knef 'It's Raining Roses' ('Fuer mich soll's rote Rosen regnen') has been produced at several German theatres since its premiere in 2002, and played over 200 performances in the original cast production.

To kick off the World Cup 2006 in Germany Lyons put together an evening of soccer songs for eleven singer/players titled 'SchussChor'. In the same year he commerated the 100th birthday of Ufa-Film composer Michael Jary with'Ever Kissed in the Dark?', which tells the controversial story of six popular performers during the Nazi-era. A modern-day adaptation of the old German fantasy novel and silent film 'Alraune' ('Mandrake'), which opened in 2007 phantasizes about the creation of an artificial woman.

Since 2008 Lyons has begun a collaboration with the English musical composer Paul Graham Brown. The World Premiere of their Boxing-Musical 'The Fight of the Century' which relives the confrontations between Max Schmeling and Joe Louis, opened in October 2008 in Berlin. Since the critically acclaimed World Premiere of 'King Kong' in Berlin, their moving 3-Person musical adaption of the classic novel has produced at several German-speaking theaters.
In 2014 Lyons will be directing the World Premiere of Paul Graham Brown's new musical,'The Great Houdini'.

His haunting Johnny Cash portrait 'The Beast In Me', which premiered before the Hollywood film in 2004, ran for six years at a Berlin repertory theater; a successful German touring production opened in September 2008 and ran until 2012.

His 2011 work 'Tingel Tangel Theater' recalls the legendary composer Frederick Hollaender ('The Blue Angel') and his 1930's Berlin cabaret, and continues to run at the original address of Hollaender's cabaret. 'Black Market Berlin', still running in repertory at Berlin's Kleines Theater,is a revival of the famous post-war German cabaret revue by composer Günter Neumann.

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