Theatrefolk - The Drama Teacher Resource Company

John Donald O'Shea

John Donald O'Shea is the author of eightteen published plays, all of which can be viewed at his websites, and

  • Little Nell and the Mortgage Foreclosure (Theatrefolk, 2005)
  • Death Warrant for Dracula (Big Dog Publishing, 2006)
  • The Stuffed Animal (Big Dog Publishing, 2007)
  • The First Herald Angel (Theatrefolk, 2007)
  • The Music Guild Murders (Big Dog Publishing, 2007)
  • The Day Ma's Boys Done Went To Town to Rob the Bank, Again (Big Dog Publishing, 2007)
  • Ginzberg's Irish Wake (Big Dog Publishing, 2008)
  • Inspector Findout and the Lost Cherry Pie (Brooklyn Publishers, 2008)
  • The Day that Dangerous Dan McGrew and Black Bart Balderdash Went to Dueling at Miss Kitty's Golden Nugget Saloon (Big Dog Publishing, 2008)
  • The Revolting Cheerleaders (Theatrefolk, 2008)
  • Grandma Rosie (Brooklyn Publishers, 2008)
  • Rogues Along the River (Big Dog Publishing, 2009)
  • Babes in Toyland (Big Dog Publishing, 2009) with Music by Victor Herbert, and Book and Lyrics by John Donald O'Shea
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Wolf Family Caper (Big Dog Publishing, 2009)
  • Buyer Beware, Darling? (Drama Source, 2010)
  • The Quit Claimed Ghost of the Old Viola Opera House (Drama Source, 2011)
  • The Revolting Cheerleaders Hunger Drive (Brooklyn Publishers, 2013)
  • The Christmas Reindeer (Drama Source, 2013)

He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame (BA) and the Notre Dame Law School (JD). After graduating, he reached the rank of Lt. Cmdr. in the U.S. Naval Reserve, and served as Assistant State's Attorney for Rock Island County, Illinois, and theb as Corporation Counsel for the City of Moline, Illinois.

In 1974, he was elected as a Circuit Judge for the Fourteen Judicial Circuit of Illinois. He retired in January of 2000, after serving twenty six years on the bench. He spent most of the last ten years of his judgeship as Presiding Judge of the Criminal Division of Rock Island County, IL.

"Don" has been active in community theatre since 1967, as an actor, singer, director and producer. During the course of his career as an actor, "Don" has played the following roles: "How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying," Bud Frump; "The King and I," Lun Tha; "Laura," Shelby Carpenter; "Generation," Winston Garrand; "Play it Again Sam," Dick; "Brigadoon," Tommy Albrecht; "Once Upon a Mattress," the Minstrel; "Little Mary Sunshine," Capt. Warrington; "Jesus Christ, Superstar," Pilate; "The Old Maid and the Thief," Bob (The Thief); "Andromache," Peleus; "The Mikado." Nanki Poo; "Trial by Jury."  the "Defendant;" "HMS Pinafore," Boatswain; "Pirates of Penzance," Sergeant of Police; "Yeoman of the Guard," Lord Lieutenant; "The Mikado," the Mikado; "Iolanthe," Strephon; "Patience," Reginald Bunthorne; "Shadowlands," Christopher; "Oklahoma," Andrew Carnes; "Any Number Can Die," T. J. Lathrop; "Said the Spider to the Spy," Byron; "The Good Doctor," Four roles; "Out of Sight, Out of Murder," Cogburn; "The Persians," King Darius; "George - the Musical," George Davenport; "Henriette,  the Queen," Napier Wilt; "Emmy," Pastor Carl Peterson; "The Grand Excursion," Thurlow Fawcett; "Do Black Patton Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?," Fr. O'Reilly: "Cinderella," the King; "Oliver," Sowerberry; "Once Upon a Mattress,"the Wizard; "The Fantasticks," Bellomy; "Little Women," Mr. Lawrence; "The Mikado," The Mikado; "South Pacific," Capt. Brackett; "Oklahoma," Andrew Carnes; "The Pajama Game," Mr. Hassler; "Meet Me in St. Louis," Grandpa Profitter; "Sex Please, We're Sixty," Bud, the Stud; "The Nerd," Warnock Walgrave; "The Curious Savage," Dr. Emmett; "Curse of the Aching Heart," Hightower, the villain; "The Persians," King Darius; "Inherit the Wind," Rev. Jeremiah Brown; "And Then There Were None," Gen. John Mackenzie; "It's a Wonderful Life," Mayor; "Miracle on 34th Street," Mr. Macey; "The Bacchae," Teiresius; "Ecclesiazusae," Chremus; "Miracle at Bedford Falls," Henry Potter; and "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," Pastor Hopkins.

"Don" has directed three musicals at the Quad City Music Guild (Moline, IL) , four shows for the Riversong Players, and three shows for the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre in Geneseo, IL.  Since retirement from the bench in 2000, he has directed plays at Edison Jr. High School (13 years), Jordan Jr. High School and Alleman High School in Rock Island, IL (16 years); Seton Jr. High in Moline, IL, and at Sherrard High School, in Sherrard, IL.  Babes in Toyland, with music by Victor Herbert, and book and lyrics by John Donald O'Shea was produced at Quad City Music Guild in 2009, with "Don" as Director.

After 18 years as a paid political writer, Don is now a semi-retired political "op ed" writer for the Moline Dispatch, Rock Island Argus and Quad City Times newspapers.

Don's daughter, Erin, also a Notre Dame grad, is pursuing a career in theater in Los Angeles. 

Since 2021,  Don has published four books with traditional publishers.: 

The first, "Memories of the Great Depression - a Time Forgotten," was published and released by Crosslink Publishing on October 5, 2021. It is a compilation of the memoirs of 30 ordinary Americans who lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s. 

The second, "The Stuffed Animal," was published and released by Beacon Publishing on November 12, 2021. It is Don’s first illustrated children's Christmas story. 

The third, "Memories of the Great Depression - a Time Remembered," was published and released by Crosslink Publishing on December 23, 2022. It is a compilation of the memoirs of 24 ordinary Americans who lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s.  

A fourth book, "Memories of the Great Depression – The Last-fleeting Memories," was released by Crosslink Publishing in December of 2023. It is a compilation of the memoirs of 30 more ordinary Americans who lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s.
More recently, Don has self-published four additional books: 

His fifth book, “The Christmas Reindeer” is his second illustrated children's Christmas story. It was released on Amazon on October 29, 2023.
His sixth “book” is actually a series of four books, and is a compilation of all his published op eds. The four books were released as “The Thoughts of an Irish Thinker” on Amazon, commencing October 24, 2023. 

His seventh book is a devotional, “The Scriptural Way of the Cross: Four Versions — By each of the Four Evangelists”.It was released by Amazon on November 20, 2023.

His eighth book is “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied: How to Dispose of Felony Criminal Cases on an Average of 45 Days.” It was released by Amazon on November 21, 2023.

All his books can be seen on, at

Don's Author's website can be viewed at:

"Don" is a recipient of the "Sam Award," the Quad City Music Guild's highest honor. He is also been awarded the Alleman High School Hall of Fame Drama Award as an "honorary member." And most recently, he was into the  Hall of Fame at his high school, Notre Dame College Prep, Niles , IL.

While on the bench, "Don" served on a number of occasions on the teaching faculty of the Illinois Judicial Conference which provided continuing legal education to his fellow sitting judges. In that connection, "Don" taught Civil Law and Ethics, and served as both Chair and vice-Chair of Civil Law.

Since his retirement, "Don" has also lectured on "Recent U.S. Supreme Court Criminal Cases" for both the Illinois Judges' Association, and the Rock Island County Bar Association. Don is the author of three articles that have appeared in the Illinois Bar Journal, and was a co-author of a chapter on collecting child support from an absent spouse on behalf of Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education. 

Don remains active in his parish as a lector, and as an occasional soloist.  

And he still walks the golf course, weather permitting, five days a week. 

Plays by John Donald O'Shea

The First Herald Angel

by John Donald O'Shea

On the first Christmas Eve, a shepherd meets an angel who states something miraculous is about to occur. The shepherd's wife has her doubts.

  • About 25 minutes
  • 1 M + 2 F + 2 Any Gender
  • Unit Set
  • Recommended for High Schools & Middle Schools
  • 15 pages

Little Nell and the Mortgage Foreclosure

by John Donald O'Shea

A delightful melodrama replete with broad comedy, memorable characters, and plenty of booing and hissing for the stovepipe-hat-wearing villain!

  • About 45 minutes
  • 2 M + 3 F
  • Unit Set
  • Recommended for High Schools & Middle Schools
  • 30 pages

The Revolting Cheerleaders

by John Donald O'Shea

When cheerleaders raise their fists in revolt, you never know what's going to happen next!

  • About 40 minutes
  • 6 M + 6 F
  • Simple Set
  • Recommended for High Schools & Middle Schools
  • 39 pages

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