Mission

 - A Collective Arts Company -

Dedicated to presenting an affordable theater

of vibrant new work and classic plays to our

Morningside Heights community.

The Morningside Players, (TMP) located in the Morningside Heights area of Manhattan, present pay-by-donation performances of classic plays, developmental readings, and vibrant new works in a welcoming and amiable setting. As a local, home-grown, award-winning collective arts/live theater company, TMP serve to engage our richly diverse community with relevant, thought-provoking programming that builds a cohesive community through a sense of neighborhood unity, pride, and ownership.

Founded in 1974 by Dr. Paul Kozelka of Teachers College, Columbia University, The Morningside Players are based within the Morningside Gardens Housing Cooperative at Broadway and LaSalle Street. Led throughout the 1980s by Gardens residents Lydia LaFleur and Aimee Scheff, TMP achieved 501(c)3 nonprofit organization status in 1986. In 2011, Gardens resident Susanna Frazer was named Artistic Director and the company began an ongoing relationship with Actors’ Equity Association. TMP is a volunteer, neighborhood organization led by Ms. Frazer and an 11-member advisory board made up of Morningside Heights residents vested in the vital, societal role theater plays in an inclusive and diverse community.

The Playwrights Group, organized in 2013 by Morningside Gardens resident and award-winning playwright John Barrow, is dedicated to the engagement and creative development of local voices as an artistic outlet that engages and inspires our community.  

With a special focus on short plays, the group meets about once a month to read new work aloud and share feedback and encouragement. An annual reading of new work is presented by The Morningside Players for the Gardens community. Group members have had their work produced in theaters across the country.  

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“The Morningside Players, with its egalitarian goal to offer

high-quality, affordable theater are a theatrical gem nestled

in the lower level of 100 La Salle Street and just east of Broadway.”

~ Morningside Heights Life Magazine

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Productions include Frost/NixonA Month in the CountryThe Country House, Fences, All My SonsA Raisin in the SunThe Devil's Disciple, The HeiressMrs. FarnsworthThe Unexpected Guest, and numerous original works. Althea: She Went to Hell, by resident playwright John Barrow, had a successful run as part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival. TMP also was a guest company at Columbia University where it performed Wittenberg.

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“Artistic Director Susanna Frazer's expert direction

surely was the force that made All My Sons an organic whole.”

MRHS Newsletter June 2014  ~  Beatrice Gottlieb

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In recognition of excellence in Black theater within the five boroughs of the New York metropolitan area, the Audience Development Committee, (AUDELCO) named the Morningside Players standing room only and extended productions of The Old Settler and Fences as Best Revival for 2014 and 2015 respectively. The Morningside Players receive grants from Columbia Community Service, (CCS) to address the needs of underserved individuals residing in the neighborhoods surrounding the university.

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"Twenty-first century in New York City is one of those times

when curious theater goers can see plays by major writers

with extraordinary casts working with highly acclaimed 

directors in the basements of Manhattan. I'm talking about

a thrilling evening of theater, August Wilson's Fences. 

Watching this tragically moral drama unfold was one of the

highlights of my theater season. Superb acting made me weep

at this family's pain and laugh with relief at their momentary joys." 

  ~ Larry Litt, The New York Theatre Wire

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Artistic Director, Susanna Frazer and Managing Director, Bridget Leicester accepting a second grant from Columbia Community Services at Columbia University, May 25th, 2016

Board of Advisors

Advisory board members have spent decades living and raising families within the Upper West Side and Morningside Heights Manhattan neighborhoods.

John Barrow | award-winning Playwright

Carol Carter* | Legal Aid Attorney

Susanna Frazer* | Artistic Director, Actor/Director

Sherry Kane | labor union Representative and Activist

Bridget Leicester | Managing Director, Clinical Social Work/Therapist

Tina Lumley | Project Manager and Manhattan Community Board 9 Member

Thomas Miller* | Educator and Actor

Lewis Papier | Social Worker and Writer/Composer

Cecelia Riddett* | Actor and Audiobook Narrator

Debra Skoff | Fiduciary Accountant

Ernest Wiggins | Associate Professor of Theatre at Kean University

* denotes member of Actors' Equity Association

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