A treasure of the Bay Area theatre scene, veteran actor Gary S. Martinez has truly done it all. With over 25 years of experience at TheatreWorks, audiences may remember Gary as Pap Finn in Big River and Candy in Of Mice and Men. We’re thrilled to see him take the stage next as cynical film director Walter Keegan in The Country House! Gary recently took our Actor Spotlight quiz and gave us some insight into his life and work.
TWSV: What is your hometown?
Gary: Sonoma, CA.
TWSV: What was your first acting role?
Gary: I was 4 years old playing a wee Norwegian boy onstage with my mother in The Song of Norway for San Jose Music Theatre (which was to become San Jose Civic Light Opera/American Musical Theatre of San Jose). I was later to work for that company for 16 years in the 90s and 2000s.
TWSV: What has been your worst stage mishap?
Gary: I was performing the role of Sidney Bruhl in Deathtrap with San Jose Stage. I was supposed to shoot a crossbow at my enemy and hit a cardboard target offstage. I “loaded” the arrow into the crossbow, pulled the trigger, and the arrow plopped out of the crossbow, falling to my feet. I picked up the arrow and ran offstage stabbing the arrow into the chest of my enemy. He had already been fitted with an arrow jutting out of his chest. He entered onstage with two arrows piercing into his chest.
TWSV: What is your dream role?
Gary: I truly enjoyed playing Mr. Green, a 78-year old agoraphobic, homophobic Jewish man in Visiting Mr. Green for Sacramento Theatre Company. In the future: King Lear? Fagin in Oliver again? (I played Fagin for TheatreWorks over 25 years ago!)
TWSV: What has been your favorite role?
Gary: Candy in Of Mice and Men for TheatreWorks:
TWSV: Who is an actor/actress that has inspired you?
Gary: Sir Ian McKellan. I first saw him perform live in 1970 in London in The Wood Demon by Chekhov. Many years later I had the pleasure of working with him (though not onstage) when he came through San Francisco with his one-man Acting Shakespeare production.
TWSV: What is a hobby or interest, aside from theatre, that you are passionate about?
Gary: Arts development. For more than 30 years, I wrote grants, filled out compliance reports, planned fundraising events, worked in board development and other activities that manifested in raising funds for various non-profit arts organizations. I worked for KTEH, Silicon Valley Public Television for 16 years (both on-camera and off).
TWSV: What is your go-to meal before a show?
Gary: I do not eat for at least 3 hours before a show.
TWSV: What is your go-to meal (and/or drink) post show?
Gary: I’m a gin and tonic kind of guy, preferably Bombay Sapphire! But I enjoy Seagram’s Extra Dry Gin as well. No more beer for me! I rarely, if ever, eat a meal/snack post a show. I’ve lost 40 pounds and have every intention of keeping that weight off for good!
TWSV: What is your earliest memory of TheatreWorks?
Gary: My first summer back from 12 years in the Midwest I auditioned for TheatreWorks and was cast in On the Razzle and Romeo and Juliet in the Fire Circle Theater. Remember the Fire Circle? That was 1984. Ah, the memories!
TWSV: Tell us something about yourself that our audience may not already know.
Gary: I am an award-winning composer/lyricist of pre-school children’s songs: “Little Sprout,” “Creepy Crawly Slimy Things,” “The Bathroom Song,” and others.
Gary as Gustav, the Green-Nosed Reingoat from Every Christmas Story Ever Told. He performed that show in Sacramento for Capital Stage Company for five holiday seasons!