Richard Ouzounian

Richard Ouzounian, theatre critic, director, writer (b at New York City 8 Mar 1950). Richard Ouzounian was educated at Regis High School, NY, and received his bachelor of arts in English literature from Fordham University in 1970. He completed his master's in theatre and creative writing at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 1972, where he directed a production of Much Ado About Nothing that starred such future luminaries as Brent CARVER, the late Goldie Semple, Lorne Kennedy and Michelle Fisk.

He launched his professional career in Vancouver, directing Ann Mortifee and Leon Bibb in Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (Arts Club, 1972), followed by a production of How the Other Half Loves (Vancouver Playhouse 1972) with Paxton Whitehead.

His Edmonton Citadel Theatre debut came in 1973, when he directed a blue-chip cast headed by John NEVILLE and Brent Carver in a production of Much Ado About Nothing. His production of Betty Lambert's Sqrieux de Deux (New Play Centre, 1975) starred Michael Ball, Susan Wright and Lally Cadeau while Olympiad, which made its debut at the Citadel Theatre, toured to Vancouver, Kingston and Ottawa before playing at Theatre Maisonneuve during the Montréal Olympics of 1976.

Richard Ouzounian has been artistic director of 5 Canadian theatres - FESTIVAL LENNOXVILLE (1978-80), Toronto's Young People's Theatre (1979-80), MANITOBA THEATRE CENTRE (1980-84), Toronto's CentreStage (1984-85) and Halifax's NEPTUNE THEATRE (1986-89) and has been involved in more than 250 productions.

Notable productions at Manitoba Theatre Centre included Macbeth (1980), with Michael Ball and Leueen Willoughby; Grease (1981); The Taming of the Shrew (1982) starring Ball, Andrew Gillies and Willoughby; Richard III with Cedric Smith and Semple; and The Duchess of Malfi with Robert Benson, Semple, Kennedy and Fisk.

Highlight productions at Neptune Theatre included Evita (1986); Tartuffe (1987) with Rodger Barton, Walter Borden and Melanie Doane; and A Midsummer Night's Dream (1988).

As a writer and lyricist, Ouzounian's earlier works include the 1978 off-Broadway revue A Bistro Car on the C.N.R., musical versions of several Shakespeare plays, original shows such as Olympiad and Come Out, Come Out Whatever You Are and adaptations/translations of Moliere's Scapin and Tartuffe.

An associate director at the Stratford Festival from 1986 to 1989, Richard Ouzounian has directed several productions there, including Pericles (1986), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1989) and his musical version of Dracula, co-written with composer Marek Norman (1999). Ouzounian and Marek's other collaborations include Emily, adapted from Lucy Maud MONTGOMERY's Emily of New Moon (Charlottetown Festival, 1999) and Larry's Party, adapted from Carol SHIELDS' novel, directed by Robin PHILLIPS at Toronto's Canadian Stage in 2001.

Richard Ouzounian was creative head of arts programming for TVOntario from 1995-2000 and theatre critic for CBC Radio Toronto from 1991-2000, and was appointed the Toronto Star's theatre critic in 2000. Informed by a broad knowledge of theatre in general and Broadway musicals in particular, his style is light, sharp and occasionally dismissive.

He has continued to direct productions including the Canadian premieres of Sondheim's Anyone Can Whistle, Jonathan Munro's Variations on a Nervous Breakdown (both 2008, Barrie's Talk is Free Theatre) and Jerry Springer: The Opera (2009, Hart House, Toronto).

Richard Ouzounian has taught at UBC, Simon Fraser University, the University of Winnipeg, Dalhousie University, George Brown College and Sheridan College. He was made a Doctor of Sacred Letters by Thorneloe University in Sudbury, Ont in 2003.