Award-winning alumnus sees new play debut
Joe DiPietro has written numerous plays and won three Tony Awards since he graduated from Rutgers in 1984. Now he is on his way to get recognition for his accomplishments and celebrate the debut of a new play in his former town.
His musical “Memphis” won the 2010 Tony Award for Best Musical, the Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award, according to his online biography on broadwayworld.com.
He said Rutgers plans to include him in its Hall of Distinguished Alumni for his contributions to theater and to the reputation of his alma mater.
DiPietro said the nomination was a wonderful surprise.
“It is a great honor,” he said. “To be remembered by my alma mater like that after graduating nearly 30 years ago is just thrilling.”
DiPietro’s latest play, “Clever Little Lies,” made its debut Nov. 22 at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, one of the top regional theatres in the country, he said.
He said he is thrilled and privileged to have his third world premiere at this venue.
“For me it’s really a thrill to go back to New Brunswick,” DiPietro said. “I spent four years of my life at Rutgers, my entire college education was in New Brunswick, so it just feels like home to me.”
DiPietro said not much has changed since he left New Brunswick. Some of the restaurants he once visited as a student, like Tumulty’s Pub, still exist.
One big difference, he said, is the increase in fast food and chain restaurants, such as Starbucks and Subway. Students at Rutgers did not have those types of restaurants when he went to school. In the early 1980s, the majority of the stores were small businesses.
“But the campus itself is still the same,” DiPietro said, “So it is really nostalgic and a home coming for me to work here.”
His love for writing began in high school and continued throughout his college career when he studied literature, drama and theatre as an English major, he said.
He enjoyed writing soap operas for Rutgers’ old TV station. He and other students would make videos and distribute them to campuses and television outlets in the area.
“Clever Little Lies” tells the story of an adult son who tells his father about his extramarital affair. The play portrays how the revelation impacts their relationship with each other as well as their loved ones, said Christopher Howatt, the associate director of marketing and public relations at the George Street Playhouse.
Howatt said watching the secrets unfold as the whole family gets involved is exciting.
“Clever Little Lies” is a modern comedy, DiPietro said. It is fast moving and funny, yet covers the long-term relationships grown kids have with their parents.
“I am so happy with ‘Clever Little Lies,’” he said. “It debuted less than a week ago at George Street Playhouse, there is a fantastic cast starring Marlo Thomas, it’s a great theatre and I am just so proud of it.”
He said students would enjoy watching a play that examines older people dealing with relationships while showing the similarities of relationships between people of different ages.
“I also think they’ll really enjoy watching true adults deal with their meddling parents,” he said.
He said students who want to go into theatre or writing should always keep learning.
“What I always tell students is if you want to go into the performing arts, you have to become a life-long student of theatre and of art and of humanity and of behavior,” he said.
Students should learn both inside and outside the classroom, he said. They should also get involved in as many extracurricular activities as possible to gain more experience performing in front of an audience and having their words read aloud.
“I consider myself a life-long student of drama, writing, narrative and theatre,” DiPietro said.