Friday, October 26, 2012


Joey Landwehr

How did you end up in San Diego?

My partner and I met in 2000, just before the 9/11 attacks, and we were living in Brooklyn just over the river.  When the towers fell – we could see the towers from our apartment window – the whole scheme of New York changed.  And having been there for so many years, I felt it was time for me to find something different, something that really gives me some fulfillment instead of living from paycheck to paycheck and going from show to show and waiting tables in between. 

My partner was getting a little disenchanted with New York as well.  He said if he ever moved away, San Francisco and San Diego were the only places he would ever go.  So, we flew out here the summer after the 9/11 attacks and I got off the plane and said, “I’m home.”  And I never thought I would be a “California person” because I had never been to California and always thought of California as that fake, botox-filled place and it drove me a little batty to think of it.  But when I stepped off the plane in San Diego, I thought “wow this has so much potential and there is so much already here I wanted to be a part of.” 

That being said, that year I decided I would come out for pilot season because I had my SAG card and my AFTRA card, so I thought I’d sort of feel it out and see what’s going on.  And I remember I was taking an acting class I can’t remember exactly what the scene was but I was paired up with this beautiful lady with beautiful red hair and we were doing this scene about her father having raped her.  It was a very emotional scene and she was doing the lines like she was in a hamburger commercial.  I, on the other hand, was really getting into it and so the instructor stopped us halfway through and she – pointing to me - goes, “you, you’re from New York right?  We don’t do that here in LA.”  And I about fell out of my chair.  That’s when I knew LA is not the place for me.  [laughs]  Perhaps San Francisco and San Diego were better options. 

Then my partner got a great job working at Rady Children’s Hospital and so we came out here to San Diego.  I had no prospects and I was very lucky Alan Ziter at the SD Performing Arts League hired me as a temp doing office management and then within the next few years I became member services director.  It was the perfect way to jump into the theatre scene here because I got to know everybody in town.  Then, Becky Cherlin Baird - who was the artistic director at the J*Company before me - was leaving the job to start a family and I happened to see her at a taping at NBC.  I told her, “I want your job …what do I need to do?”  And she said give me your resume and we’ll see what happens.  So I went through a bazillion different interviews and I was very lucky to be given this, my dream job. 

That’s great.  What year did you start working here?

2006 was my first year here.

Joey in rehearsal for "Fiddler on the Roof" in 2010.

Take me through the process you go through selecting musicals for each season.  Other than being kid-friendly, what do you look for when choosing shows?

I have a fantastic, amazing committee that’s an integral part of the J*Company and I have one of the most amazing Executive Producers you could ever ask for, Monica Handler Penner.  I bring things to her that I might be a little weary of.  Inevitably, it always comes around to Monica asking me if I think this is right for our children.  And if I say “yes,” she says “I trust you and I know it will be great.”  So, it is wonderful that she trusts me, as does my committee and the Board of Directors and the Executive Staff here.

I think I’ve worked very hard to gain that trust.  I mean, they still wonder sometimes [laughs] but every year they are very pleased with the outcome.  And I’m very proud to say that for the first 13 years here, they were in the red trying to establish themselves and ever since I walked in the door I’m so proud to say that we’ve been in the black.  And we’ve never looked back.  And or budget gets bigger every year and we grow with the numbers of our kids and our audiences and it is very exciting.

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