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Joyce Szatkowski

Presenting an Interview with Joyce Szatkowski
By Michael H. Arve

Joyce Szatkowski has been seen on most of the community theatre stages in both musical comedy and drama, every performance is a gem. Mostly known for her musical work, she has also performed in “straight” plays.

A partial list of the groups that Joyce has worked with are: Blackfriars, RAPA, Webster Theater Guild, Towpath Players, Greece Performing Arts Society, Kodaktors, Brighton Theater Guild, JCC Centerstage, Irondequoit Theater Guild, Kings Players, and Rochester Community Players.

She is also an award winning actress, having received Excellence in Acting Awards from TANYS (Theatre Association of New York State) for playing Sis in Queen of Bingo, Gertrude in Save Me a Place at Forest Lawn, and Tess LaRuffa in Bermuda Avenue Triangle all for GRRC.

Recently I had the opportunity to question her about her varied career.

GRRC: How did you get interested in theatre?

Joyce: I always sang: high school chorus, Barbershop Quartet, Women’s Choral Club, Songsters which is sort of a show choir for adults. When my oldest child enrolled in Bishop Kearney High School, I participated in a Parents Show, which was a revue of snippets from various musicals. The rest is history, as they say.

GRRC: Who had the most influence on your getting into performing?

Joyce: Ray Shahin, the Bishop Kearney music director – a pure genius. His musical arrangements, among his many talents, are absolute bliss.

GRRC: What do you like best about performing in musicals?

Joyce: To quote Anthony Newley “The roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd” that’s first and foremost. There is nothing that can replace that feeling when I am up on stage and immersed in a character either like or unlike my own. I feel like a chameleon that can be just about anyone I choose to be. And when you throw in the applause and laughter, well, what else is there to say?

GRRC: And now to ask the obvious: What do you like best about performing in non-musical theatre?

Joyce: Non-musical theatre gives me the opportunity to go deep into the layers of a person’s character and peel those layers and build that character. Sinking my teeth into a plum role and conquering it, is the ultimate challenge. When I begin to feel that I actually am that person, I know that I have succeeded.

GRRC: What is your favorite role?

Joyce: Can’t be done! That’s like asking me to choose my favorite child. Each role becomes special. I can, however, pick several standouts: Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret, Reverend Mother in Nuncrakers, Abby in Arsenic & Old Lace, Tess LaRuffa in Bermuda Avenue Triangle, Madame Hortense in Zorba, and Sis in Queen of Bingo. Each role was special for many different reasons.

GRRC: Who are some your favorite actors that you have acted with?

Joyce: That’s almost as bad as asking me to name my favorite role. There are so many. You forge such great friendships when you interact with others in a show. A few come to mind: Paul Olewnik in Anything Goes. He was such fun and taught me to tap dance for my role as Reno Sweeney. Ken Harrington, my Zorba. He is a class act, a true gentleman who always put me at ease. Diane Chevron, with whom I have shared the stage in Bermuda Avenue Triangle, Queen of Bingo and Save me a Place at Forest Lawn. She is a hoot to work with and I believe we bring out the best in each other. And there is Ed Casey who played Michael in I DO! I DO! he is such a good actor and performer and helped me raised my performance as Agnes. There are many, many more who have enriched my life.

GRRC: How important do you think community theatre is?

Joyce: It is key to our lives. We are all culturally enriched by the plethora of outstanding theatre groups in the Greater Rochester area.

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