Thursday, March 25, 2010

QNY Snapshot: Playwright Joe Marshall

Posted by David

In June of 2009, Joe Marshall and his partner moved to New York City from Phoenix.  Never in his wildest dreams did he think that six months later, a play of his would be premiering Off-Broadway.

But that is exactly what happened, through a combination of good timing, good luck and good connections.

Back in the early 90's, Marshal, freshly out of drama school and newly ensconced in Phoenix, Arizona, created the Alternative Theatre Company (ATC) for the purpose of "producing LGBT plays that engage an audience in a conversation relating to specific feelings and messages reflecting the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender community."  You wouldn't think that a red state like Arizona would be all that welcoming to such an artistic endeavor, but ATC's productions were well-received from the get-go.  In 1993-1994, Marshall produced a season of works by the legendary gay playwright John Glines and the company was off and running.  Marshall views Glines as a trailblazer who was later to become an important mentor for the young artist.

Things were progressing smoothly for Marshall and ATC, then the New York job offer for his partner appeared.  Sensing an opportunity for them both, Marshall pulled up the tent stakes of ATC and took them to New York City.  He figured it would take a few years to get grounded in the theatre community before he could mount a full production in the City.  But a chance meeting with John Glines himself turned all that around and six months later The Gayest Christmas Pageant Ever opened at the Actors' Playhouse on 7th Avenue in the West Village.  The limited run was successful and the company is now preparing to open their second NYC production tomorrow.

A Night in Vegas was originally produced in Phoenix in 2000 and won two AriZoni Awards, for Best Original Script and Best Overall Production.  Amazingly, this was only Marshall's second outing as a playwright but he has clearly continued his 2-0 run of theatrical successes.  The work has been produced regionally since it premiered in Phoenix and, while it has evolved and material has been updated to keep it current, the basic shape of six vignettes remains intact.

Marshall will also direct the work, which he did with the original production.  While many other directors have helmed the work regionally, for Marshall it feels as if things have come full circle in bringing the work to New York and back under his own direction.  The production features a new design team and cast which has allowed Marshall and his production team to re-invest the work with new life.  And a new twist.

While the original production did not contain any, this production will feature nudity.  One might be cynical about such a move, but Marshall - who has always kept tabs on the various iterations of the production that have toured - observed a production where the director made the choice to have actors in a specific scene appear briefly nude.  The change felt organic instead of gratuitous and Marshall decided to keep this change in the production for its current incarnation.

A Night in Vegas begins performances this Friday night at The Actors' Playhouse, 100 7th Avenue South, and runs through June 19th.  For tickets go online here or call (212) 352-3101.

Stay tuned for the QNY review of the production coming soon!

1 comment: