Lisa Rothe is a theater director and acting coach, specializing in new plays, and updating the classics for our modern times.
FUN HOME by Jeanine Tesori & Lisa Kron @ Kansas City Repertory Theatre
While the citizens of KC are reveling in Chiefs‘ Fever, the patrons of KCREP have reasons to stand up and cheer for a different kind of ‘Homes: the outstanding production of Fun Home...Director Lisa Rothe has masterfully captured every key component...Simply put, this is Broadway at its best in Kansas City.
– Dennis Maddux-Phillips, KC Applauds
KC Rep’s production does incredible justice to every bit of its source material. Regina Garcia’s rotating set is beautiful and impressive, and the scenes in the family home make you feel especially immersed in these characters’ lives, somehow simultaneously capturing both the grandeur of the house as well as the emotional suffocation of life inside it...This is a true ensemble, and it’s remarkable that there are no weak or even just fine links within the core cast... This show is an incredible feat. It’s obvious just how much she [director Lisa Rothe] and every other person involved in this production cares about these characters and their story. It’s a whirlwind and a small masterpiece.
– Vivian Kane, The Pitch
STEEL MAGNOLIAS by Robert Harling @ The Guthrie Theatre
The Robert Harling play, which opened Friday in director Lisa Rothe’s sparklingly entertaining production at the Guthrie Theater, is the total package. This must-see show offers an enjoyable evening of theater — one that opens you up with crackling humor before going in for the emotional kill. Yes, there will be tears. But it’s all very satisfying…Rothe’s cast at the Guthrie doesn’t have — or need — such star power. The six-member acting company has flawless craft and impeccable timing as they give us a window into the lives of a cross-section of women for whom the salon is work, respite and sanctuary….Rothe heads an excellent all-female creative team, including costume designer Kara Harmon, lighting designer Cat Tate Starmer and sound designer Jane Shaw, whose music selections help to regulate the heartbeat of the show. The action takes place on scenic designer Narelle Sissons’ rotating salon, which is set against the backdrop of a huge tree….The director has orchestrated an inclusive production for the 21st century, including Austene Van, a veteran Penumbra Theatre performer, playing salon owner Truvy. Van is solid in an acting ensemble that delivers with relish…this is a show that everyone should see, including men. “Magnolias” takes a viewer inside a place where women are themselves, empowered, witty and free. It’s a period piece, yes, with big hair and all, but it resonates in this moment in 21st-century America.
– Rohan Preston, Star Tribune
Under director Lisa Rothe's adept orchestration of characters, narrative, and physical production, this Steel Magnolias demonstrates a solidly written play with endearing characters, big laughs that come from the heart, and sensitive handling of pain and loss, that is able to give audiences a rarified view of the gift of genuine community and deep friendships. That's exactly what happens on stage at the McGuire, and it is wonderful...The six actors who occupy the stage are a dream team, each and every one sublime... In a warm and winning production, its humor scores bullseyes, its tenderness hits deep in the heart, and its stagecraft shines.
– Arthur Dorman, Talkin' Broadway
Before Steel Magnolias surfaced in our season planning discussions, I had never read the play, seen the play or watched the famed 1989 film." What's more, adds Haj, "our esteemed director Lisa Rothe and several members of our creative team were just as unfamiliar." Scenic designer Narelle Sissons has created Truvy's cozy establishment with screens that showcase the changing seasons, depicted via a telltale tree projected behind the salon...Rothe's ensemble of actors delight in the rich quips and stand resolute through the despair.
– Jay Gabler, City Pages
Filled with stunning performances, this story involves womanhood, the power of friendship, and the sorrows that come when tragedy hits...During set changes, we see the characters inside as if their day is still going on while the shop spins. It’s visually appealing, and keeps eyes on the stage for what is otherwise a time for audiences to check the program or adjust in their seat. During one scene, the store is even holiday themed to reflect the changing seasons and how much time has passed between scenes...A story like this must involve not only a group of tight knit characters, but also a skilled ensemble of performers to convey the camaraderie these women hold. Director Lisa Rothe has done just that with this incredibly talented group of six women.
– Brett Burger, Minneapolis/St Paul Magazine
CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF by Tennessee Williams @ Kansas City Repertory Theatre
As good as the movie with Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, and Burl Ives was, the steamy movie pales beside the KC Rep live version. This local version with two guest actors presents the raw, explosive, steamy, sultry play as true to any Tennessee Williams play one will ever see....Take note. This production is worthy of national recognition and would succeed on Broadway, London’s West End, or a Los Angeles run. The show is quality piled on quality. Interesting, compelling, thought-provoking, rough, sublime, exhausting, shocking–it’s all there. This is Tennessee Williams at his finest.
– Bob Evans, KC Applauds
Kansas City Repertory Theatre dishes up a gleaming Cadillac production of 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,' deftly directed, elegantly designed and festooned with vivid performances from one of the best casts you’re likely to see on any stage. Director Lisa Rothe, does an impressive job with a talented cast, squeezing as much valid drama from the material as possible. And she gets a big assist from an inspired design team (Lee Savage, Theresa Squire, Cecilia Durbin & Lindsay Jones).
– Robert Trussell, KC Studio
Director Lisa Rothe’s skill is evident mere seconds into the show, and her ability to deliver the hidden message is terrific. It’s a message that speaks to us today...features set design by Lee Savage (walls lined with bottles was a brilliant move), and lovely costume designs by Theresa Squire that never distract the audience away from the play...Sizzling, sensuous and smoldering.
– Megan Greenlee, PerformInk Kansas City
Williams revised the 1955 drama (striking period outfits by costume designer Theresa Squire) in 1974, and that version, directed here by Lisa Rothe, is an absorbing production, realized with impressive performances by a talented cast.
– Deborah Hirsch, The Pitch
IN MY CHAIR, written and performed by Eva DeVirgilis
The stories of self-acceptance are genuine, funny, inspiring, completely raw and sometimes heartbreaking. At the masterful direction of Lisa Rothe, it's a marvel to see DeVirgilis at the very top of her game, seamlessly morphing into dozens of distinct characters, all with different dialects, body language and unique characteristics.
– Jeremy Bustin, Broadway World
New York-based director Lisa Rothe deftly helps the artist transform her original straight-on TEDx Talk by carefully orchestrating Andew Bonniwell’s moody lighting, Robbie Kinter’s brash sound work and Tennessee Dixon’s terrifically abstract and complementary scenic design and projections into a multi-hued stage piece.
– Tony Farrell, Richmond Times-Dispatch
AMBER WAVES by James Still @ Indiana Repertory Theatre
Lisa Rothe directs a splendid cast, utilizing an imaginative set by Narelle Sissons augmented by Mary Louise Geiger’s sensitive lighting patterns and Todd Mark Reischman’s organic sound design. Theresa Squire adds a knowing touch with her spot-on costume choices.
– Ken Klingenmeier, A Seat on The Aisle
All of the cast’s acting performances were uniformly impressive, an indication of the strong influence exerted by director Lisa Rothe. Narelle Sissons’ abstract set design, Theresa Squire’s on-point costumes and Mary Louise Geiger’s lighting design all combined to create an environment and atmosphere that reflected a place, its inhabitants and a way of life, slowly going by the wayside that anyone brought up in these parts can identify with.
– Tom Alvarez, On the Aisle
Pulling everything together, director Lisa Rothe nudges the show away from sentimentality to an honest, and more complex place.
– Ethel Winslow, Weekly View
Directed by Lisa Rothe, the performances feel natural, like these actors truly are family, or that Hillhouse really stepped off a tractor before coming onstage. Bacon is outstanding as a mother finding the multiple roles of a farm wife almost overwhelming, but persevering through willpower and love. The simple wooden stage set and old latch-handle refrigerator at the back suggest a timeless, well-worn comfortable setting (kudos to scenic designer Narelle Sissons). Lighting designer Mary Louise Geiger makes clever use of glass-jar lighting. Grimm grounds this production with his music, singing and connection to the original production; Eddy provides a perfect compliment, an Appalachian virtuoso of various string instruments, and a beautiful voice.
– John Lyle Belden, Plays with John and Wendy
DETROIT '67 by Dominique Morrisseau @ Playmakers Repertory Company
Director Lisa Rothe gets vivid characterizations from the actors playing the close-knit friends. The play’s subject matter serves as sobering commentary on the causes of current racial tensions. The production’s value lies in its poignant depiction of the devastating effect of such tensions on individual lives.
– Roy C Dicks, The News & Observer
You can't see the footage of burned and bombed-out buildings onstage in PlayMakers Rep's production of Detroit '67. But you know director Lisa Rothe and set designer Lee Savage clearly have… Morisseau reminds us that explosions provide propulsion, among other things—including, occasionally, an exit that was not there before. Well worth seeing.
– Byron Woods, INDYweek
All five actors give stellar performances filled with conviction and purpose...Lee Savage has created a beautiful and believable basement of a home in 1967, replete with children's paintings and historic posters of African-American figures. When the riot erupts outside the home, pieces of rubble descend from the rafters into the basement, a powerful metaphor for the destruction outside literally invading this space. Xavier Pierce's lighting design creates poignant moods as the scenes change from day to night and safe to dangerous. McKay Coble's costumes add to the verisimilitude.
– Garrett Southerland, Talkin' Broadway
CONFEDERATES by Suzanne Bradbeer @ TheatreWorks/Silicon Valley
A huge hit...Stellar direction, eye-popping creative elements, and a cast of three who all knock their performances right out of the park...This is a don't miss, 5-star production!
– Eddie Reynolds, Talkin' Broadway
Under the direction of Lisa Rothe, Bradbeer’s script has not an ounce of fat; even the show’s set changes communicate the flurry of activity, the whirl of interruptions and chance encounters of the campaign trail.
– Lily Janiak, San Francisco Chronicle (SF Gate)
Directed by Lisa Rothe, TheatreWorks' production has all the qualities of a viable political aspirant: It is clean, handsome, and articulate.
– Kevin Kirby, Mountain View Voice
The buses and generic hotels of the campaign trail are folded neatly into Andrew Boyce’s revolving set, which helps director Lisa Rothe maintain a steady rhythm as she builds momentum in a plot that begins to resemble a high-stakes thriller with very human stakes…The tension mounts beautifully, and the weight of American politics, the ethics (and importance) of responsible journalism and the ever-complicated issue of race in this country all come into play.
– Chad Jones, TheaterDogs.net
This world premiere couldn’t be more timely, given that this is an especially contentious election year ...
playwright Bradbeer manages it, thanks in large part to director Lisa Rothe and the cast.
– Judy Richter, For All Events
THE HARASSMENT OF IRIS MALLOY by Zak Berkman @ People's Light
Directed with a palpable empathy by Lisa Rothe... truly knockout performances from its cast...
– Wendy Rosenfield, Philadelphia Inquirer
The production, directed by Lisa Rothe, is seamless.
– Howard Shapiro, WHYY (NPR/PBS)
Berkman and director Lisa Rothe build the story expertly.
– Mark Copta, BroadStreet Review
Lisa Rothe’s well-timed direction builds the suspense as a roster of flawed characters aim at all costs to hit the elusive jackpot in life. A three-layered set design by Daniel Zimmerman seamlessly transports the action from home to hotel and back again, before a casino backdrop and the noise of clinking coins dropping from winning slot machines (sound design by Justin Ellington).
– Debra Miller, Phindie
The Harassment of Iris Malloy, under the direction of Lisa Rothe, is thought provoking, emotionally driven and has an incredible cast who portray an intriguing group of complicated characters.
– Kelli Curtin, Theatre Sensation
Berkman is blessed with a talented director in Lisa Rothe and a stellar cast to tell his story.
– Edna Snidebottom, Delco Culture Vultures
The staging is quite masterful & the four member ensemble cast is outstanding.
– Judy Cohen, Beyond My Backyard
There is so to much absorb in this 90-minute play, which Lisa Rothe has directed with skillful understatement.
– Frank Burd
ROPES by Barbara Colio (English translation by Maria Alexandria Beech) @ Two River Theater
This exquisite piece of theatre is a thoughtful and entertaining portrayal of a family and the ties that bind them. Wonderfully written by Barbara Colio, beautifully translated into English by Maria Alexandria Beech, this must-see play features superb direction by Lisa Rothe. The three man cast is outstanding and succeeds in bringing the true tenor of the story about complex relationships to life on the Red Bank Stage. The Creative Team has done a fantastic job of bringing ROPES to the stage with a flexible and attractive modern design.
– Marina Kennedy, Broadway World
Skillfully directed by Lisa Rothe.
– Michael Sommers, NY Times
Three sterling performances and Lisa Rothe's deft management of those artists.
– Philip Dorian, The Two River Times
The actors and director Lisa Rothe impressively transform that space into a wide variety of locations.
– Patrick Maley, NJ.com
SCIENCE FAIR, conceived and performed by Hai-Ting Chinn @ HERE Arts Center - TimeOut (Critics Pick)
Chinn and director Lisa Rothe take extraordinary care with every facet of the production: Science Fair gleams with polish...tucked into a tiny space, Caite Hevner Kemp's library-cum-lab set glows like a jewel (Lucrecia Briceno did the lighting design); every interaction between Chinn and her pianist Erika Switzer has been choreographed precisely.
– Helen Shaw, Time Out (Critics Pick)
A handsome production directed by Lisa Rothe.
– Corinna Da Fonseca-Wollheim, NY Times
Director Lisa Rothe has smartly incorporated movement. Rotation of the planets presents like a balletic fantasy. Moments succeed with a light, clever spin. Science Fair takes the lessons many of us have heard and puts them in a presentational format. Hai-Ting Chinn shares a careful exuberance in this through-sung work.
– Marcina Zaccarina, Theatre Pizzazz
What stood out to me was the integration of each component of Science Fair. Even with this production being prop heavy, the transitions are well planned and she is able to bring a science class into the 21st century, including with technology involved.
– Shoshana Roberts, Theatre is Easy
THE PECULIAR PATRIOT by Liza Jessie Peterson @ Penumbra Theater
The production is staged simply and evocatively by Lisa Rothe...A smart writer, Peterson shows how the prison system evolved out of slavery, which was prohibited under the 13th Amendment "except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted...In "Patriot," Peterson captures us with humor, but also cleverly smuggles in sharp social and political observations. The result is both enlightening and entertaining.
– Rohan Preston, Star Tribune
Penumbra Theater has brought a galvanizing new voice to the Twin Cities with its presentation of Liza Jessie Peterson's one-actor play The Peculiar Patriot. This work deserves to be seen widely. It offers a vital perspective on some of society's most ingrained challenges even as it entertains with great heart and humor.
– Arthur Dorman, Talkin’ Broadway
DEAR ELIZABETH by Sarah Ruhl @ People's Light
Director and performers seem to have a deep connection to the piece, and the people who inspired it. Rothe has brought some lovely nuanced touches to the play and McLaughlin and Eckert both wonderfully display the intelligence and wit of their characters. They keep the viewer engaged throughout the entire performance.
– Ellen Wilson Dilks, Delaware County News Network
Rothe has staged Dear Elizabeth with a tone that allows Bishop and Lowell to be smart while also being accessible. She doesn’t put the characters on a lofty plane or have them portrayed as snobs or artistes. She shows them at their most varied and real.
– Neal's Paper
Lisa Rothe’s direction gently allows the actors to show their enthusiasms, preoccupations and fears in a natural way, focusing on the language and using the minimal set to emphasize those words.
– Anders Back, Daily Local News
CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF @ Chautauqua Theater Company
Director Lisa Rothe and designer Lee Savage have staged a beautifully executed and perfectly evocative coup de théâtre....tastefully and meticulously directed and beautifully designed, and performed by a skillful cast that shines from top to bottom.
– Jack Kirchoff, The Chautauquan Daily