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Review Categories

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Gilbert & Sullivan

Musical Theater


  • Sweeney Tod
    Eugene Opera, OR

  • Opera serves up a taut ‘Todd
    “Stage Director Bill Fabris produced a strong and vibrant ensemble – perhaps one of the best I have seen for a production of “Sweeney Todd.”
    In fact, the staging for all the characters was riveting. Nothing was too extravagant, yet every character’s motions were vibrant and incredibly present. I highly recommend this production; it is not often one comes across such an excellent “Sweeney Todd.”
  • Magic Flute
    Anchorage Opera, AK

  • (the set design) “... helped make momentum of the choppy, problematic plot smooth, intensely engaging and almost logical. Credit for that can be shared with director Bill Fabris, who turned it into a kind of play being done by the Greek Gods and shortened the dialogue.”
  • Lucia di Lammermoor
    Opera in Williamsburg, VA

  • Opera hits all the right notes
    “Taking full advantage of the limited stage, stage director Bill Fabris managed to suggest dimensions well beyond the physical ones creatively using minimal stage props and rear projections.”

  • Die Fledermaus (The Polar Bat)
    Anchorage Opera, AK

  • “Director Bill Fabris brought his knack for well-turned slapstick to the show. Sometimes amusing was always underway and clever choreography accompanied the musical numbers, not only the duets and trios but the trickier crowd scenes. The transformation of the shows best-known waltz number into a chainsaw ‘ballet’ was a highlight.”
  • The Pirates of Penzance
    Anchorage Opera, AK

  • Hilarious Choreography makes for an entertaining “Pirates” “In terms of stage action, Anchorage Opera’s production of “The Pirates of Penzance” is the best I’ve ever seen. The musical staire always tends toward slapstick, but diector Bill Fabris has drilled the cast to pull off with respectable precision, never lagging nor becoming so broad as to turn into sight gags for their own sake.”
  • La Boheme

  • North Shore Music Festival, NY

  • "The creative team, directed by Bill Fabris, worked a polished freshness into this well-known gem. His principals morphed from impoverished comrades to jealous lovers in the time span of an abrupt key change. The humanity of her (Musetta) transformation as the drama progressed was another credit to director Fabris"
  • Madama Butterfly

  • Indianapolis Opera, IN


  • "“Stage director Bill Fabris handled his relatively small cast full, professional aplomb."
  • Street Scene

  • Portland State University, OR

  • PSU Opera creates energetic, engaging Street Scene
    "Many kudos should go to Bill Fabris for his stage directions and choreography that brought out the exuberance of each performer within the framework of the story."
  • "Stage director Bill Fabris made nice work of the multifarious action in the first act, with especially appealing treatment of a sextet on the pleasures of ice cream in the oppressive summer heat, as well as in a vibrant song-and-dance number with show-stealers Satheara Sin and Joel Walker"
  • Tosca

  • Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre

  • "'Tosca’ is triumph for Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre ... Bill Fabris’ deft direction ensured that even the largest crowd scenes were engaging wherever the audience might look."


Anchorage Opera, AK

Comic flourish enlivens 'Barber' OPERA: Director has two or three visual things going during most of the show. As in his antic productions here of "HMS Pinafore" and "Don Pasquale," director Bill Fabris manages to have two or three visual things going on simultaneously most of the time that sidle up to, but don't quite become, slapstick. For instance, the echoing "Feeegaro" calls of the big act one aria, "Largo al factotum," were not sung by baritone James Taylor, but by cast members vying for his attention as they act out the text.


Anchorage Opera, AK

Don Pasquale – Anchorage Opera, AK
Anchorage Daily News By Sarah Henning - April 15, 2008


Every once in a while, a director gets to be a star in his own show.

Bill Fabris has dug deep into his bag of musical theater tricks to imagine a hysterical, lively and thoroughly accessible "Don Pasquale." At the Anchorage Opera's opening performance Saturday in Discovery Theatre, it was clear immediately that many traditionalists will have a hissy fit over this one. Fabris plucked Donizetti's opera buffa from the mid-19th century and re-set it in 1950s Rome. The broad-as-a-barn acting and nearly constant flurry of stage action -- though beloved by the masses -- won't feel refined enough for some die-hard opera fans.

Often comic operas are staged to be amusing, playing to a few polite titters. Fabris' blatant styling, combined with comically gifted leads, inspired bursts of hearty laughter and lots of them. For example, take the soprano's first aria. Usually, Norina (Maureen McKay) is reading a trashy romance in her bedroom. The vivacious vixen soon tosses it aside and boasts that she knows a thing or two (or 20) about stealing hearts.

Fabris has transplanted this scene to a bustling piazza, where Norina nearly causes a bicycle accident with one coquettish glance. She nonchalantly powders her nose while running up a sheer cliff of coloratura. She gives the waiter a wink and he rips up her check with a shrug, helpless against her charms. (Certainly, he wasn't the only one in the theater. It's not mere flattery to say McKay is positively irresistible.)


Palmetto Opera, SC

‘Guest director Bill Fabris brought into play his impressive international experience as stage director… It was directed with great artistic skill that complimented the music and heightened the humor. How great it would be to welcome him on board frequently.’


Second Stage, Anchorage Opera, AK

"The trio – were campy and delightfully choreographed by director Bill Fabris."


Mobile Opera, AL

"Under the direction of Bill Fabris, this clever and mildly risqué audience pleaser moved nimbly despite the three-hour running time, and provides a memorably romantic night at the theater. Fabris also likes to move things along, and his cast of singers manages the choreography without mishap. Show-stopping moments include the men’s hilarious "Women" number in which the guys make like June Taylor chorines in homage to the "slender, tender gender" that leaves grown men dazed and confused. Terpsichorean precision is replaced by manly determination.


Lyric Opera of San Antonio, TX

"Lyric Opera of San Antonio has done well by Rossini’s Cinderella, which opened Friday with a good cast, respectful staging..." "Bill Fabris’ staging is mostly naturalistic and thoughtfully detailed. It is comically exaggerated but with none of the hammy burlesque that often intrudes on this opera. As a result, the libretto’s strong sense of justice and equality shine through."


Westminster Opera Theater, NJ

"Kudos to Westminster Opera Theatre for tackling a new work when most seldom deviate from the tried and true standards."


Opera Boston, MA

"… in a captivatingly gentle staging by Bill Fabris that respected them [the singers] the audience and, above all, Massenet."


Opera Mobile, AL

"Superb cast brings Verdi masterpiece to life for a poignant, satisfying night at the opera. … Mobile Opera has brought together an exceptionally gifted ensemble under the able direction of Bill Fabris."


Opera Mobile, AL

"The production could hardly lose. With the teaming up of Maestro Shannon again with Stage Director, Bill Fabris, the set from Virginia Opera, with soloist of distinction and a chorus that can match anybody in the U.S., it was sure to be a winning event."

"Beautiful performance of Aaron Copland’s opera [was] alive and well onstage Thursday night." "The closing moments of Act I are pure inspiration… stage director Bill Fabris has done a marvelous job at bringing the disparate parts together for this production."


Chautauqua Opera, NY

"Fabris’ direction provided some hilarious moments..."

"The production values were stellar." "The general direction was simultaneously mature and free spirited, and the audience laughed aloud many times." "Everyone’s acting was quite good and director Bill Fabris managed to harness a Gilbert and Sullivan kind of nonsense without sinking into laughing at his characters."


Opera South Carolina

"Here’s to a delicious production of The Merry Widow." "The audience welcomed this frothy, brilliantly sung staging with scarcely any less enthusiasm than it greeted the year 2000 a few minutes after the performance ended." "Fabris’ direction provided some hilarious moments..."



"OperaDelaware offers Wagner of distinction... as the dramatic opening began, the audience knew that they were in for a memorable evening."


Eugene Opera, OR

"Fledermaus enchanting from its beginning to end." "…director Bill Fabris enlivened the pretense by spicing up the dialogue with modern idioms, injecting the narrative with references about Eugene and encouraging performers to go the distance with their characters. The result was a remarkable accomplishment — an opera in which the stage action was as rewarding as the music."



The Mikado

Eugene Opera, OR

"Eugene Opera’s ‘Mikado’ turns into significant success ... Bill Fabis directed what can only be called an elaborately choreographed production using fans as dramatic and musical props. After some opening-night jitters, the chorus and soloists twirled their fans with proficiency, especially in the joyous, colorful finales."

The Pirates of Penzance

Fresno Grand Opera, CA

"Thanks to nimble comic direction, robust singing and a slick, energetic cast, this version of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic operetta romps its way to crowd-pleasing status. Stage director Bill Fabris, who has overseen so many productions of "Pirates" across the country (he isn't sure, but he thinks it's 14) that he probably dreams in "Major General" rhymes, is the key to the success of this one. Every carefully choreographed moment on stage is crisp and self-assured. Time and again, Fabris' staging invigorates the operetta's wacky but dated silliness."

The Pirates of Penzance

Chautauqua Opera, NY

JAMESTOWN - The Pirates of Penzance, Chautauqua Opera, August 20, 2009
"Bill Fabris’ choreography made a lot of singers who happened to be dancing, look as though they might be dancers, after all."

The Mikado

Indianapolis Opera

INDIANAPOLIS – The Mikado, Indianapolis Opera, October 17, 2010
"Fun and Enthusiasm Flow in ‘The Mikado’s Director Bill Fabris took advantage of the fathomless comic resources of his principals, especially Robert Orth (Ko-Ko) and David Ward (Pooh-Bah), to indulge freely in the fantasy of love, custom and authoritarian rule concocted by Gilbert and Sullivan."

INDIANAPOLIS - The Mikado, Indianapolis Opera, October 17, 2010
"Stage director/choreographer Bill Fabris moved his assemblage in and out with ease, the entire production going smoothly."

The Pirates of Penzance


INDIANAPOLIS - Pirates of Penzance, Indianapolis Opera, 3/13/09

Indianapolis Opera rocked Clowes Memorial Hall on March 13 with a sophisticated Pirates of Penzance that was quite out of the ordinary.


Staging and choreography by Bill Fabris also fitted into the romantic mood. Here was no hysterical comedy (although there were plenty of laughs), no bad buffo buffoonery, but a gentle, loving staging with many a delicate touch and witty idea for a merry romp.


City Centre, NY

Furthermore, choreographer Bill Fabris has abundant amusingly silly notions on how to enliven ditties that have ossified in other hands. Watch, for instance, when in "Cat-Like Tread" he devises a humorous bow to Michael Bennett's Chorus Line wedge patterns. He also seems fully aware of the cast's limited terpsichorean capabilities and mostly works within them, although his thoughtfully basic requests are still a bit too much for some members of the eager company.

The Pirates of Penzance

Columbus, OH

‘New York Troupe’s zaniness carries a classic over the top. Choreography by Bill Fabris is one laugh after another…’

H.M.S. Pinafore

Anchorage Opera, AK

"Fast Paced 'Pinafore' Balances Beauty, Comedy - One of the most notable aspects of this production is its grand staging and beautiful tableaus between the artistic vision and the luscious period garments... The visual beauty is a testament to the experience of director Bill Fabris. Fabris and cast won the 'Pinafore' race by striking a stylistic balance, presenting Gilbert and Sullivan's humor broadly enough for modern audiences without turning art into sitcom."


Chautauqua Opera, NY

“…charms of this late G&S entry are well served by spirited direction… director and choreographer Bill Fabris not only animates the cast and the chorus in their satisfying and often physically witty stage movements, but also provides incisive and diverting dance throughout the property. This production by Chautauqua Opera has maximized the virtues of the work thanks to the pleasant comic inventiveness odirectorf Bill Fabris.”



"The production is rich in choreography devised by Bill Fabris, quite a bit of it a take-off on Broadway dance routines and the precision dancing of the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes."

" Opening over the weekend at City Center, the revival benefits greatly from Bill Fabris’ often witty choreography…" "Aside from a few contemporary touches — a choreographic gag derived from A Chorus Line is especially funny — the operetta is given a fairly conventional treatment..."


Buxton Gilbert & Sullivan Festival; Manchester, England

"In this effervescent production, well-sung and well staged, any anxieties about transatlantic revision of the G&S tradition were quickly dispelled…" "The choreography, by co-director Bill Fabris, though not overdone, was refreshingly more developed and crisper than we are used to."


Mobile Opera, AL

"Mobile Opera stages a zany, colorful Mikado." "…opening performance was generally crisp and well-paced by stage director Bill Fabris."


Opera South Carolina

"Director Bill Fabris’ staging emphasized the comic, requiring his cast to be quick afoot as well as steady of voice. In the main, they complied very nicely, making Sunday afternoon’s performance a delight to the senses."



"It doesn’t matter what you think, you must admit they’ve got it right. The secret to their success is that they keep faith both with the gentle world in which that silliness takes place. The production had the same dash and gaiety."


Chautauqua Opera, NY

"The production values are quite wonderful with Ron Kadri’s set designs and Bill Fabris’ stage directing and choreography allowing the flow of the action the clearest channels possible. The use of fans throughout the show added color and visual snap to the proceedings, a touch of genius."

"The good news is that Chautauqua Opera now has onstage a hilarious, colorful version of The Mikado, which works as well musically as it does dramatically." "Bill Fabris both directed and choreographed, and he keeps everything and everyone in motion, to great effect."


Opera Boston, MA

"… top-notch stage direction and the plentiful and excellent choreography by Bill Fabris, there was scarcely a moment in this Gondoliers production that didn’t enchant."


Mobile Opera, AL

"In opera’s Pinafore, comedy is at full sail." "Three cheers and one more for Mobile Opera’s H.M.S. Pinafore, a genuine highlight of this arts season." "Stage Director/choreographer Bill Fabris gets the most from his 35-member chorus, whose members are required to sing, dance and display comic timing — a considerable feat that the chorus does admirably."


South Carolina Opera

"Veteran director and choreographer Bill Fabris clearly has a point of view, and he has a cast that gives it plenty of energy and guffaws. The emphasis here is on comedy; if there’s a laugh to be had, Fabris has his actors and singers pursuing it."


Wolf Trap, VA

"… sharpened even more by the outrageously comic choreography of Bill Fabris."


Mobile Opera, AL

"… a bright and funny staging of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance." " Stage director Bill Fabris, a new comer to Mobile Opera, earns high marks for setting his cast in motion, which brightened the production considerably and made the two hours move along briskly."



"Super is a small word for this production. It is energized, it moves... Bill Fabris (his name) will certainly draw me to the theatre again."

"...set a winner a sail... playing the work as straight faced as possible... There is a sunny graceful wit that captures the show's delicate balance of comedy and sentimentality."



The Sound of Music

Anchorage Opera, AK

"Anchorage scores a musical hit. Director Bill Fabris keeps the momentum rolling. Stage movement is natural and convincing, no easy trick given the obligatory song-and-dance format of the art form. He successfully treads the fine line between music-driven action and choreography for choreography’s sake. His approach puts the drama front and center and at key moments permits the music to tell the story with more power than acting alone might convey."

Snow White

Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, IL

Bill Fabris, the production's director/choreographer, keeps the action moving at a zippy pace, handles the frequently crowded compositions with elegance - in a great joke, just about every "dwarf" here stands taller than Snow White herself - and pulls off a beauty of a special effect when the queen magically transforms into a withered crone. But Fabris' best move was to populate the production with clever, astute comedians who revel in the ridiculousness without (fully) jettisoning the earnestness; Snow White may be a goof, but it's a happily sincere goof.

A Wonderful Life

Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, IL

Director and choreographer Bill Fabris brings an old-movie feel and a big-stage sensibility to both of his duties. A stage-wide Charleston in the first act involves dozens of cast members and is danced exquisitely. As a director, he brings an original touch to the well-served story.

Touching without being saccharine and uplifting without being preachy, maybe "A Wonderful Life" is what more of us need right now.

'Wonderful Life' sets tone for a beautiful holiday.

This year, Director/Choreographer Bill Fabris' 'A Wonderful Life' is a bit darker, very dramatic and sometimes economically scary. But as someone who's been through some traumatic upheaval the last couple of years, this story reminded me of the true beauty of Life.

One of the best numbers of the production is the dance in the gym at school. The Charleston dance number is fantastic and the costumes are the bees-knees.

Little Shop of Horrors

Stage One; Wichita, KS,

"Stage One's Little Shop of Horrors opened the groups 11th season with a bright and thoroughly entertaining version of this deliciously absurd off-Broadway charmer... And New York guest director Bill Fabris has just the right inspired cast who can pull it off."


Shreveport Opera, LA

" Carousel delivers dreamy ride… Bill Fabris must be celebrated for breathing fresh life into this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic."


Opera Boston, MA

"The staging, by Bill Fabris, emphasizes the show’s links to Gilbert and Sullivan, not a bad approach considering Opera Boston’s history with that team’s operettas."

"Director/choreographer Bill Fabris elected a musical comedy style rather than operatic production, working with the set designer to keep the stage fast moving with light." "And Fabris focused on the serious themes in the piece without too many side trips into the gaudier, more juvenile humor that many directors have resorted to in the hope of making this flawed but wonderful entertainment "sell."


2001 & 2002, NE

"Stage Director Bill Fabris employs elaborate staging and choreography…" "…everyone had a jolly holiday spirit — especially those tap-dancing Santas."

"Other memorable numbers are ‘Mele Kalikimaka,’ which features Dave Webber rolling onto the stage on a surfboard with a bubbly cocktail in hand, and the famous tap- dancing Santas from last year’s "Fanfare," giving another spirited rendition of ‘Be A Santa’."


Ash Lawn-Highland Summer Festival, VA

"Kiss Me, Kate performances sparkling despite a downpour" "… ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’ was the comic highlight of the evening."

"More pleasing aspects include the brisk, not headlong, pacing of director Bill Fabris. With Fabris’ choreography, the dancing never seems merely superfluous, as when Lilli and Fred waltz back into romantic feelings for each other."


Ash Lawn-Highland Summer Festival, VA

"If you’re looking for an evening at the theater that is both entertaining and thought provoking, here is a performance you will enjoy." "Stage director Bill Fabris was responsible for the consistent and thoughtful interplay of the disparate personalities on stage."


Ash Lawn-Highland Summer Fest ival, VA

"Ash Lawn’s Oklahoma leaves you humming." "Director and choreographer Bill Fabris put together a solid production filled with highly effective dances and provocative characterations." "… director Fabris’s fine choreography."


Ash Lawn-Highland Summer Festival, VA

"In some ways, there was more magic in Ash Lawn's Oz than in Hollywood's because in this setting, the viewer was thrust into the scenery and hence into the story. Without th gimmicks of the movie set, imagination became one of the players and you are there… [O]ne of the most entertaining and visually interesting performances to ever grace Ash Lawn-Highland's Summer Festival.




Chautauqua Opera, NY

"Bill Fabris adapted the original choreography by Jerome Robbins for Norton Hall stage in a workable, if not overwhelming way."


Chautauqua Opera, NY

"The female chorus became a chorus line of grissettes that danced an intense, unabashed and brilliantly choreographed can-can while singing! The audience cheered wildly after this dance."


Opera Colorado

"At the Capulets’ masked ball, he added jugglers, acrobats and a fire breather to the crowd scene and had Romeo do a courtly dance with Juliet during their first duet, an especially nice touch."


Short Film: Boot Camp

"The wittiest selection [in a collection of award winning short films] ...Boot Camp."



"...all perfect. So is the chorus line, each member a clearly defined personality and obviously having a grand time with Bill Fabris' clever period choreography."

"… while the choreography of Bill Fabris is snappy in the extreme and wonderfully executed. The tap dance the opens Act II was a real showstopper."



"...Fabris' choreography [was] exuberant and frequently athletic..."