Aisle Seat Review and our readers are enjoying a new series of question-and-answer interviews with prominent Bay Area theater people.
Our goal is not to subject you the reader to extended portentous sermons of the guest’s views on Russian translations of lesser-known Mamet flash drama (is there such a thing?)
Too often the people who guide and make theater in the Bay Area are behind the scenes — fast-moving denizens of the curtain lines who mumble into microphones while invariably (always excepting Carl Jordan’s beret collection…) dressed head-to-toe in black. These interviews allow you, the reader, to get to know these amazingly talented people a bit more, as…people.
Offering some personal and professional insights: with a heavy dash of humor, this is Aisle Seat Review’s Not So Random Question Time.
Anthony Martinez is an actor and musician based in Santa Rosa. He most recently appeared in David Templeton’s critically acclaimed Drumming With Anubis, a production that won a 2019 “Ensemble” award from the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle.
Film credits: Donovan Reid, The Last Hit, Quick, Ghettoblaster, The Animal, Cheaper by the Dozen, Bottle Shock. Television: Love Kills (Investigation Discovery), World’s Astonishing Stories (Nippon TV), World’s Crime Mysteries (Nippon TV), 13 Reasons Why, numerous commercials and industrials for clients such as Polaroid, Apple, Save Energy, Food Network, AARP, and many more. Theater: Left Edge Theater (Zombietown- TBA nomination, This Random World, Drumming with Anubis, Sweat), Spreckels Theater Company (Guys & Dolls, Forever Plaid, 1776– TBA/SFBATCC nomination), 6th Street Playhouse (La Cage Aux Folles, Kiss Me Kate), Lucky Penny Productions (Funny Girl), Novato Theater Company (Next to Normal, Into the Woods– TBA and SFBATCC nominations), Cinnabar Theater (Forever Plaid, Fiddler on the Roof, Man of La Mancha), 42nd Street Moon (Girl Crazy, On a Clear Day, Dear World).
In addition to his stage and film work, Anthony is a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist who performs with his own band “The Core,” tours nationally as keyboardist for Cash & King, a Tribute to Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley, and Petty Rocks, a Tribute to Tom Petty, and is the founder and tenor vocalist with “Comfort & Joy,” the Bay Area’s premiere a cappella holiday vocal quartet.
ASR: How did you get started in theater?
AM: I was actually a musician before becoming an actor. As a kid, I took piano and guitar lessons and played in rock bands. I never did theater as a kid. Right after high school, I got into a car accident and, while I was recuperating, most of what was on TV in the middle of the day were soap operas. I remember watching them thinking “I can do that.”
My sister had a co-worker who was a part-time commercial actor in the Bay Area, and said “OK, prove it.”
Through her co-worker, I got hooked up with SF on-camera training classes and casting agents. From there, I got my first agent and first acting jobs (a national commercial and a small part in a movie in LA) without ever having set foot onstage. I then met a theater artist from LA with a theater company and fell in love with live theater.
ASR: What was the first play you performed in or directed for a paying audience?
AM: That would be Holy Ghosts by Romulus Linney. Good play. I wish more companies would produce it. I have never seen another production other than the one I was in. I think the reason it’s seldom produced is because it calls for live snake handling!
It’s about a religious snake-handling congregation in the south and, yes, for my first play I had to take up live snakes onstage every night. What an introduction to live theater!
ASR: How many theater companies have you been involved with?
AM: Wow. Let’s see… I think 17 different theater companies in the Bay Area.
ASR: Who has had the largest impact on your professional development in the theater?
AM: That’s a great question. I have to say Marvin Klebe, the founder of Cinnabar Theater. He not only gave me my first professional job, the moment I met him he was so kind, so knowlegable, so supportive… he really inspired me be the best I could be.
ASR: What are some of your favorite dramas? Musicals? Comedies?
AM: For drama, I love Angels in America, The Compleat Female Stage Beauty, and A Steady Rain. Comedies I love are Lend Me a Tenor, Moon Over Buffalo, and Vanya, Sasha, Masha and Spike. Musicals… Next to Normal, Falsettos, and everything and anything by Sondheim.
ASR: Name three all-time favorites that your company has produced.
AM: I’m currently an Associate Artist at Left Edge Theatre in Santa Rosa, so I’d have to say Drumming with Anubis, Hand to God, and A Steady Rain.
ASR: Which play would you most like to see put into deep freeze for 20 years?
AM: The Music Man.
ASR: Which rare gems would you like to see revived?
AM: A musical called Triumph of Love. It had a very short life on Broadway in the 90s, but it is so wonderful. My old theater company in Marin did it and it was so charming. The audience loved it. I am always astounded that more companies don’t do it.
ASR: What is Shakespeare’s most underrated play?
AM: I would say Titus Andronicus, but I am a horror movie fan, so I’m biased!
ASR: Shakespeare’s most over-performed play?
AM: A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, for sure.
The dog took center stage and… followed its natural instincts… …
ASR: If you had to do a whole season performing technical work—sets, lights, projections, sound, props, costumes—which would it be and why?
AM: Sound design. I am a musician so I really vibe with the impact sound and music can have in evoking mood.
ASR: As hard as it may be to pick just one, can you name a Bay Area actor who you think does amazing work?
AM: Wow. That is so, so hard. I personally know so many astounding actors, but I will pick someone I know only from their work. I am a big fan of Craig Marker. He is always amazing.
ASR: How do you warm up before a performance? How do you relax after?
AM: For musicals, I do vocal exercises and light physical warmup. For plays, I do a physical warmup and go over my lines! After a performance, I like to unwind with an adult beverage, but if I have a performance the next day, never tequila. It shreds my voice.
ASR: If someone asked to be your apprentice and learn all that you know, what three things would you tell them are essential?
1. Be on time.
2. Be off book ASAP.
3. Always be helpful and cooperative to everyone involved in the production, even if you’ve had a bad day.
ASR: What theater-related friendship means the most to you? Why?
AM: I have to say the one with my sister, Vicki. She is a stage manager at Left Edge Theatre and it’s nice to be able to work together and share that common interest.
ASR: What is the funniest screw-up you’ve seen on stage in a live performance?
AM: It wasn’t technically a screw-up, but during a production of Camelot I was in, the dog playing Pellinore’s dog proceeded to completely steal a scene doing… something dogs do. The dog took center stage and… followed its natural instincts, looking right out at the audience. The audience was roaring with laughter and the stunned cast onstage was just frozen. I wasn’t onstage at the time (thank God), just watching from the wings, but I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe.
ASR: The most excruciating screw-up?
AM: Probably when I split my pants completely onstage during a performance… in a theater in the round! No wings to dash off into!
ASR: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen a guest do at the theater?
AM: I was in the audience of a local musical when a drunk person climbed onstage, waving at the audience and then at her friend in the cast on stage (who was mortified), and trying to conduct the orchestra. It seemed like she was up there for an eternity and I kept wondering “When is someone gonna do something?” Finally, an ASM came out and got her offstage. So awkward.
ASR: Do you have a “day job?”
AM: I worked as an administrator at a community college for many years. Now I am lucky enough to be able to work for myself as a consultant and teacher.
ASR: What are your interests outside of theater?
AM: I am an avid martial artist and instructor, as well as a musician. I also sing, play keyboards and guitar, and work as a sideman for many local and touring artists.
ASR: Do you actively do any other arts apart from the theater? Do you follow other arts—music, film, dance, painting/sculpture?
AM: I do lots of music (live and recording) and on-camera work (industrial films, commercials, and movies). I also practice martial arts. Does that count?
ASR: You discover a beautiful island on which you may build your own society. You make the rules. What are the first three rules you’d put into place?
1. No talking in the audience during a performance.
2. No nuts in brownies or cookies.
3. Kindness to all animals.
ASR: What would be the worst “buy one get one free” sale of all time?
AM: A colonoscopy.
ASR: You have the opportunity to create a 30-minute TV series. What’s it called and what’s the premise?
AM: I’m still working on that. ;)
ASR: If you were arrested with no explanation, your friends and family might assume you had done what?
AM: Protesting or used martial arts in self-defense (maybe at the same time).
ASR: A fashion accessory you like better than others?
AM: I have many, many pairs of shoes.
ASR: What would be the coolest animal to scale up to the size of a horse?
AM: A French Bulldog.
ASR: Theater people often pride themselves on “taking risks”—have you any interest in true risk-taking, such as rock climbing, shark diving, bungee jumping, skydiving?
AM: Nope. I am not a daredevil. I have had enough life-threatening excitement in my life already and lived to tell the tales—those are stories for another time—so I now crave calmness. But I do love rollercoasters!
ASR: Favorite quote from a movie or stage play?
AM: “Just because they could, they never stopped to think if they should.”- Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park. Good life advice.