Recap the Many Plays of THE OUTSIDERS Book Writer Adam Rapp

The Outsiders marks Rapp's first book of a musical that he has written, after penning many plays.

By: Apr. 12, 2024
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Recap the Many Plays of THE OUTSIDERS Book Writer Adam Rapp
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Adam Rapp has written the book for the new musical adaptation of The Outsiders, based on the classic book and film by the same name. The Outsiders marks Rapp's first book of a musical that he has written, but he's no stranger to writing for the stage, having written several plays throughout his career.

In honor of Rapp's first musical coming to Broadway, we're taking a walk down memory lane and revisiting some of his plays.

The Sound Inside

Rapp made his Broadway debut with his play The Sound Inside, which began playing at Studio 54 starting in the fall of 2019, starring Mary-Louise Parker. The play premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2018.

The play received six Tony Award nominations, including for Best Play; Parker won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play.

A brilliant Ivy League writing professor. A talented yet mysterious student. An unthinkable favor. Everyone has a story – the question is how it ends.

Finer Noble Gases

One of Rapp's first plays, Finer Noble Gases, premiered at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in 2000, and went on to have subsequent productions including at Actors Theatre of Louisville in 2001, Carolina Actors Studio Theatre in Charlotte in 2003, and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in New York City in 2004.

This play traces the self-destructive attraction to drugs that wreck the talent and ambition of a once vibrant group of rock musicians now gone to seed in their East Village hellhole.


In 2001, Nocturne premiered by the New York Theatre Workshop, before going on to be staged at American Repertory Theater and Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

The play follows a 32-year-old former piano prodigy, who recounts the tragic events that tore his family apart.

The Outsiders
Photo Credit: Richard Feldman

Stone Cold Dead Serious

In 2002, Rapp's play Stone Cold Dead Serious was produced in 2002 by the American Repertory Theater.

A tribe of dropouts, junkies, and QVC addicts, the Ledbetters are just your average dysfunctional family. When their teenage son Wynne reaches the finals of a national video game contest, he embarks on an odyssey to New York City that pits him against a cast of freaks and threatens to bring the Ledbetters crashing to their post-nuclear knees. 

The Outsiders
Photo Credit: Richard Feldman


In 2004, Blackbird premiered, and had runs at The Edge Theatre Company off-Broadway, as well as the Bush in London.

A film adaptation was made in 2007, directed by Rapp, and starring Gillian JacobsPaul Sparks, and Danny Hoch

In 1990s New York City, teen runaway and stripper Froggy is caught in the throes of heroin addiction as she falls in love with a fellow junkie, war veteran Baylis.

Red Light Winter 

Red Light Winter premiered at The Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 2005 at the Merle Reskin Garage Theatre in Chicago. Rapp directed the production, which continued until July 10, 2005. The play then had a subsequent run Off-Broadway at the Barrow Street Theatre in 2006. Another notable production was in 2012, when the play appeared at the Ustinov Studio in Bath, England.

Red Light Winter received the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work in 2005 for the Garage Theatre production. The play was nominated for the 2006 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play. Rapp received the 2006 Obie Award, Special Citation, and Wilmes won an Obie for his performance. Set designer Todd Rosenthal was nominated for a Hewes Design Award. The play was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2006.

Escaping their lives in Manhattan, former college buddies Matt and Davis take off to the Netherlands and find themselves thrown into a bizarre love triangle with a beautiful young prostitute named Christina. But the romance they find in Europe is eventually overshadowed by the truth they discover at home. 

The Outsiders
Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik

The Metal Children 

Rapp's The Metal Children premiered in 2010 at the Vineyard Theatre off-Broadway. The play was given its regional debut by Swine Palace on Louisiana State University's campus.

In small-town America, a young adult novel about teen pregnancy is banned by the local school board, igniting a fierce and violent debate over abortion, religious beliefs, and modern feminism. Its directionless New York City author arrives in town to defend the book and finds that it has inspired a group of local teens to rebel in strange and unexpected ways.

The Outsiders
Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg

Essential Self-Defense 

This play premiered at at Playwrights Horizons in 2007. 

When a disgruntled misfit takes a job as an attack dummy in a women’s self-defense class, he finds himself mysteriously drawn to the repressed bookworm who’s beating on him.  But all’s not well on the mean Midwestern streets of Bloggs:  with local children vanishing at an alarming rate, our hero, his lady friend, and a motley assortment of poets, butchers, and punk librarians prepare to battle the darkness on the edge of town. 


Rapp returned to Playwrights Horizons in 2008 with his next play, Kindness. 

An ailing mother and her teenaged son flee Illinois and a crumbling marriage for the relative calm and safety of a midtown Manhattan hotel.  Mom holds tickets to a popular musical about love and redemption.  Her son, a gifted student currently enrolled at a prestigious military academy, isn’t interested.  So Mom takes the kindly cabdriver instead, while the boy entertains a visitor from down the hall, an enigmatic young woman seeking solace after a tumultuous, potentially dangerous evening. 

The Hallway Trilogy 

Rapp's The Hallway Trilogy opened off-Broadway in 2011 at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.

Spanning one hundred years in one Lower East Side tenement hallway, this series of connected plays—Rose, Paraffin, and Nursing—is a dark and compelling exploration of what binds people together and drives them apart. 

Dreams of Flying Dreams of Falling 

In 2011, Rapp's Dreams of Flying Dreams of Falling opened at Atlantic Theater Company, directed by Neil Pepe.

An absurdist comedy of manners, Dreams of Flying Dreams of Falling lifts the veil on the lives of two wealthy American families and shows us how even the most polished among us can behave like animals.

Through the Yellow Hour 

In September 2012, Through the Yellow Hour debuted, also directed by Rapp, at Rattlestick, as the first production of the company's 18th season.

In this dystopian thriller, one woman struggles to survive in her East Village apartment after the country is besieged by a mob of marauding terrorists.

Wolf in the River

In Wolf in the River, Adam Rapp explores love and neglect, the challenges of poverty, the dangerous cost of shiftlessness, the simple notion of leaving a place behind, and the value of a girl.

The play made its American premiere at The Flea in 2016.

The Purple Lights of Joppa Illinois 

Also in 2016, The Purple Lights of Joppa Illinois premiered at the Atlantic Theater Company.

Ellis Shook lives alone in a small duplex apartment in Paducah, Kentucky. He works nights buffing floors, keeps to himself, and always remembers to take his medication. But when two teenage girls arrive at his doorstep one autumn afternoon, their visit will force him to confront a tragic past while also offering him a glimpse at hope.

This just scrapes the surface of Adam Rapp's vast playwriting career. His many other plays include Dreams of the Salthorse, Animals and Plants, Train Story, Faster, Trueblinka, Gompers, Members Only, Bingo with the Indians, American Sligo, Classic Kitchen Timer, and Ghosts in the Cottonwoods.

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