President and Founder of the National Jewish Theater Foundation
Arnold Mittelman is a director, producer and educator with a distinguished career of artistic and educational achievement that has created almost 300 diverse productions of plays, musicals and special events. He has helped found and/or lead five major not-for-profit theaters as well as producing numerous commercial theatrical productions. His latest accomplishment (2007) is to be named President and Producing Artistic Director of the not-for-profit National Jewish Theater/Foundation, which celebrates the cultural significance of Jewish history and the creativity of Jewish American composers, lyricists, playwrights and performers. Under the leadership of Mr. Mittelman and its esteemed Advisory Board, The National Jewish Theater Foundation Holocaust Theater International Initiative has created the first comprehensive production, education and research-oriented, digital Holocaust Theater Catalog. NJTF/HTI recently produced the acclaimed NYC production of The Soap Myth by Jeff Cohen as a play and film, both directed by Mr. Mittelman and released by London based Digital Theatre and American PBS. He also founded (2007) and serves as President of the not-for-profit American Theater Festival Foundation. Mr. Mittelman is producer of Rothschild & Sons, a critically acclaimed new musical with Music and Lyrics by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick and book by Sherman Yellen.
Prior to his founding the NJTF and ATFF, Mr. Mittelman was for over two decades (1985-2006) the Producing Artistic Director of the renowned Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami, Florida. Mr. Mittelman was responsible for more than 200 ethnically diverse plays, musicals, educational and special events performed on two stages (1100 & 200 seats) during his tenure at the Playhouse. These plays and musicals were highlighted by 30 world or U.S. premieres and reinterpreted revivals, many directed by Mr. Mittelman. Forty Playhouse productions, featuring some of the industry’s greatest theatrical talents and supported by innovative partnerships between the not-for-profit and for-profit sectors, transferred directly to Broadway, Off-Broadway, toured, or went on to other national and international venues. This body of work includes three Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights directing their own work for the first time in a major theatrical production: Edward Albee, Seascape; David Auburn, Proof; and Nilo Cruz, Anna In the Tropics. Musical legends Cy Coleman, Charles Strouse, Jerry Herman, Jimmy Buffett, John Kander and Fred Ebb were in residence at the Playhouse to develop world premiere productions. The Coconut Grove Playhouse was honored by the participation of librettist/writers Herman Wouk, Alfred Uhry, Jerome Weidman, Terrence McNally and Mario Vargas Llosa. Numerous Tony Award winning actors, writers, directors, choreographers and designers worked with Mr. Mittelman. While at the Playhouse he oversaw the creation of an education program that included an ongoing professionally taught theatrical training curriculum, internships, scholarships and in-school touring program that commissioned and produced 35 socially relevant plays reaching over 200 thousand students and teachers. In 2006, Mr. Mittelman was the recipient of the prestigious George Abbott Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts.
Before coming to the Playhouse and for more than a decade (1973-1984), Mr. Mittelman was Producing Director of the nationally acclaimed Whole Theatre Company, which he founded with other artists including Oscar-winner Olympia Dukakis. Mr. Mittelman had the pleasure of directing Ms. Dukakis in Brecht’s Mother Courage, Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and O’Neill’s The Touch of the Poet. The repertory of the Whole Theatre resident company emphasized classic American and Western European literature. Prior to the Whole Theatre he was a founder and director of the innovative New York Free Theatre where he created, for six years (1966-1972), original plays and musicals with relevant social themes, including racism and individual responsibility. He was also a co-producer of Shaw’s Candida for CBS Television starring Blythe Danner. In 1984/5 he was lead producer and directed Alone Together at Broadway’s Music Box Theatre. He was also the sole producer of the Off-Broadway hit Visiting Mr. Green(1997/8) first starring Eli Wallach then Hal Linden, which has had 300 worldwide productions.
Mr. Mittelman attended the High School for the Performing Arts and graduated with honors from Brooklyn College. He received his M.F.A. from the N.Y.U. School of Arts, as recipient of the first Vincent Sardi Scholarship. Additionally, Mr. Mittelman has taught and been on the graduate faculty of Rutgers University, under a grant he received from the Rockefeller Foundation, developing a new doctoral program in Applied Arts. He teaches a pioneering course in Holocaust related theater at the University of Miami where he is Founding Director of the NJTF/Holocaust Theater International Initiative now part of the UM Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies.