(VIDEO) Former Columbia College Chicago Theatre Dept. Student and Teacher David Cromer’s New Off-Broadway Show ‘Is So Strange It Can Only Be True’

David Cromer

Former Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department student and faculty member and Columbia College Honorary Degree recipient David Cromer HDR ’17, who won the 2018 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for The Band’s Visit, has re-teamed with his Band’s Visit collaborators on a new Off-Broadway production, Dead Outlaw.


With a script by Itamar Moses and a rockabilly score by David Yazbek and Eric Della Penna, Dead Outlaw runs through April 14 at the Minetta Lane Theatre in New York City’s Greenwich Village neighborhood.

In a New York Times article headlined, “Dead Outlaw, a Mummy Musical, Is So Strange It Can Only Be True,” the show is described as “a rollicking thrill ride about a bumbling turn-of-the-20th-century outlaw whose body becomes a traveling, decades-long sideshow exhibited across the country.” Dead Outlaw is based on the true story of Elmer McCurdy, a bank robber whose 1911 death at the hands of a Western posse ended a life of failed crime and alcoholism and began a brilliant career as a mummified side-show attraction that travelled the U.S. for decades. To read the New York Times article, click here.

Heather Gilbert (Photo: Phil Dembinski)

The show’s lighting designer is Heather Gilbert, a faculty member in the Columbia College Theatre Department’s Theatre Design and Technology program, who won the 2020 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lighting Design for a Play for her lighting design for the drama The Sound Inside, also directed by Cromer.

Here’s a Playbill video interview with Cromer and his collaborators:

As reported previously in this blog, Cromer also won a 2017 Obie Award for directing The Band’s Visit in its original engagement Off-Broadway prior to its Tony Award-winning Broadway run. Besides The Band’s Visit, Cromer’s Off-Broadway credits include directing the musical Adding Machine (2008 Obie Award, Direction; 2008 Lucille Lortel Award, Outstanding Director) and the plays Our Town (2009 Obie Award, Direction; 2009 Lucille Lortel Award, Outstanding Director) and When the Rain Stops Falling (2010 Lucille Lortel Award, Outstanding Director). His other recent Broadway directing credits include Prayer for the French Republic (2024) and The Sound Inside (2019); he has also appeared as an actor on Broadway in The Waverly Gallery (2018) opposite Elaine May and Joan Allen and A Raisin in the Sun (2014) opposite Denzel Washington. In Chicago, he won Joseph Jefferson Awards for directing the plays Angels in America (1998), The Price (2002), The Cider House Rules (2003), and Our Town (2009).