Joe's mind-body problem comedy The Absent Minded will be featured in Theatre Nova's Michigan Playwrights Festival
in April 2020 maybe at some future time once we reach a post-COVID-19 equilibrium? Be safe.
Check out Joe's reel. It includes scenes from his Network TV debut on Chicago PD.
In February 2019, Sophomore BFA Students produced The Retreat, or Whatevs, Joe's contemporary adaptation of As You Like It at the Theatre School at DePaul University.
Joe was nominated for the Wilde Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Play for his performance as Max in Comedy of Tenors at Tipping Point Theatre.
"I felt almost guilty for laughing so hard." Kym Reinstadler, Encore Michigan
"Zarrow's all-in performance was, for me, the true standout." Jenn McKee, We Love Ann Arbor
"Mr. Zarrow does an excellent job of changing characters...Zarrow’s humanity in his role as artificial-intelligence guy is slightly eerie." David Kiley, Encore Michigan
"The three who deserve the most praise are the trio at the center of the story: Cyd Blakewell, Gabriel Franken, and Joe Zarrow, playing three small-minded but well-meaning small-town cops, each of whom wants desperately to turn the story of a young girl dying of a mysterious disease at Christmas into a heartwarming made-for-TV movie." Jack Helbig, Chicago Reader (Recommended)
"Zarrow displays a natural comedic timing and ease." Raymond Pierce, Chicago Stage Standard
"It's a testament to Zarrow's standout performance that Alan never feels like a trope, conveying with gentle smiles and a few barbs what a mixed blessing his perfect memory can be." Allison Shoemaker, Time Out Chicago
"The real standouts however, are Amy Rubenstein (Jane) and Joe Zarrow (Alan). Their complexities are so strong and unique, we can't help but latch on." Sean Margaret Wagner, Windy City Times
John in Walk Two Moons, Adventure Stage
Schoolch in Bulrusher, Congo Square
Joe's profile on the New Play Exchange.
If you are considering producing Principal Principle, please read this note about casting.
Photo by Emily Schwartz
Armed only with her dreams of making the world a better place and six weeks of training, Kay Josephs quits her corporate job to teach English in an urban high school. She wakes up to harsh realities: the copy machine is broken, the system is broken, and the spirits of her fellow teachers are broken. Or are they? A dark comedy of academic intrigue.
"There are very few excellent plays about public education. This is one."
- Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune
"★★★★ This clear-eyed glimpse into the teachers' lounge makes hearty laughs part of an all too relevant lesson plan."
- Kris Vire, Time Out Chicago
"Former public school teacher Joe Zarrow achieves something remarkable...an entertaining play about education that re-creates all the quirks and craziness of modern education without lapsing into either cynical hopelessness or Hollywood-style superteacher fantasies. His dialogue feels authentic, and his characters are flawed but likable human beings, not mouthpieces for this or that ideology."
- Jack Helbig, Chicago Reader
"Engaging, intelligent, and important. Highly recommended."
- Peter Thomas Ricci, Chicago Theater Review
A Chicago-based nonprofit director disappeared to a retreat in rural Wisconsin months ago, and in his absence the board has started firing staff left and right. One by one, they run to the woods to find new identities, new purpose, and new love. A modern update of Shakespeare's As You Like It.
A beloved comic book superheroine is finally getting her own feature film, but some fans are very unhappy with the casting. A universe-hopping play about geek culture, race, and keeping your story straight.
Domestic drone operator Boyd should be doing well: he has a loving wife, a supportive business partner, and a clean bill of health after a bout with cancer. Instead, he's so acutely desperate to escape his body that he turns to a mad scientist for help in this dark comedy about the mind-body problem.
Photo by Stephan Mazurek
"Without a doubt, one can arrive unprepared for Joe Zarrow's new play, The Pigeons, produced by Walkabout Theatre, at Swim Cafe's space. It's easily the cleverest, foxiest and physically wildest farce I've seen since, well, forever."
- Paige Listerud, Chicago Theater Blog
"Very funny satire."
- Laura Molzahn, Chicago Reader (Recommended)
A science-fictional exploration of the transformational power of karaoke. Includes robots, pandas, and the Gettysburg Address.
Photo by Shane Simmons
At a small town high school's active shooter drill, the backdrop of blank shots and bullet hole makeup inspires two teens and two adults to explore what is real in their world. Written for The Appetizer Plays speed playwriting festival.
Sibling rivalry, a circle of vengeance-wreaking, and a cat named Bongo with an unfortunate haircut. A fun short play for young actors, commissioned for the Piven Theatre Scene Study Class.
"Kodak Shirley" was the colloquial term for the models whose faces were used to calibrate color film printers. This time-hopping exploration of politics and photographic technology was commissioned for Broken Nose Theatre's Bechdel Fest.
Jade is crushed that her D&D group is breaking up, but she convinces Kristin to hang around for one last very important dungeon crawl. Inspired by Radiohead's "Let Down," and commissioned for Tympanic Theatre's Today We Escape festival.
"A superlative example of character driving storytelling."
- Zach Barr, Chicago Theatre Review
A Chicagoan confronts the city's parking violation bureaucracy.
First century C.E. Jewish historian Flavius Josephus
Tabletop Role-Playing Games (D&D being the most famous), which scratch the theatre itch and which actually have an audience, and which can continue relatively unabated during COVID.
Coincidentally: the 1980s Satanic Panic, both its camp and its serious consequences.
Reading: Middlemarch,The Broken Earth Trilogy