Joe Zarrow headshot

Welcome to the website of Joe Zarrow, Midwestern Actor and Playwright.

Thanks for visiting.

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.

Principal Principle, nominated for the 2015 Non-Equity Jeff Award for Best New Work, is now available from Dramatic Publishing. If you are considering producing Principal Principle, please read this note about casting.




Height: 5'9"


Union status: EMC

Joe on Actor's Access


Chicago PD Kent Kosar NBC
The Patient The Doctor (lead) Lunaform Productions (d. Ben Krueger)
Sweet Hitchhiker The Hitchhiker (lead) I've Got a Bat Productions (d. Kevin Riordan)
Finders Keepers Sick Shoe NYU Grad Film Short (d. Sasha Gordon)
Game Club Nigel (lead) Tribeca Flashpoint Acad. Film Short (d. Henry Pearson)
The Soul Mate Alvy New School Grad Film Short (d. Paola Romagnani)
Wilson Dow Group Husband of Terminally Ill Woman d. Mickey Lesueur
Greentown Productions Frank the Incompetent Sales Associate d. Thad Vassmer
Miller Creative Business Traveler d. Mark Carter
DuPont Maintenance Worker d. Mike Stahl


Conflict list available upon request.


Comedy of Tenors Max Tipping Point Theatre (d. Angela Kane Ferrante)
Wilde Award Nomination: Best Supporting Actor in a Play
The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence Watson Open Book Theatre (d. Krista Schafer Ewbank)
The Totalitarians Jeffrey Jefferson Theatre Nova (d. Carla Milarch)
This Alan Windy City Playhouse (d. Carl Menninger)
No Wake Teddy/Roger (u/s) Route 66 (d. Kimberly Senior)
Engines and Instruments of Flight: a Fantasia Tony Kushner Goodman Playwrights Unit (d. Seth Bockley, reading)
Jerusalem is Beautiful Dylan Kickshaw Theatre (d. Lynn Lammers, reading)
Bulrusher Schoolch Congo Square (d. TaRon Patton)
A Midsummer Night's Dream Bottom Sankofa Theatre (d. Edgar Sanchez)
Buddy Cop 2 Officer Don McMurchie Pavement Group (d. Cassy Sanders)
Arcadia Ezra Chater New Leaf Theatre (d. Jessica Hutchinson)
State & Madison: The Grid Edward Brennan Theatre Seven (d. Jen Green)
Unwilling and Hostile Instruments Ensemble Theatre Seven (d. Elly Green)
Raskol Detective Perfidy Vintage Theatre Collective (d. David Amaral)
Walk Two Moons John/Mr. Birkway Adventure Stage (d. Matthew Reeder)
So Long and Thanks for All the Fish Bud Dailey Pavement Group (d. William Rogers)
Movie Theater Parking Lot Tim/Dad Pavement Group (d. Kathryn Walsh)
Kitchen Man Walkabout (dev. Dani Bryant)
War of the Genies Nigel the Evil Genie (reading) Adventure Stage (d. Joanie Schultz)
200 Funny Things Ensemble (improv show) Collaboraction (d. Steven Ivcich)
Hiawatha's Photographing Hiawatha Caffeine Coffeehouse (d. Brian Bell)
Dover, New Hampshire Joe Pavement Group (d. Jonathan Green)
Crowded House Leonard Woolf State Theatre (d. Siciliano/Speicher)
Do Not Do This Ever Again Ensemble (reading) Dog & Pony (d. Stephen Ptacek)
We Live Here Doug, Bartman (workshop) Theatre Seven (d. Bordelon/Sanders)
Lies and Liars Marcel Theatre Seven (d. Bordelon/Sanders)
Sketchbook 8 Bell Ensemble Collaboraction (d. Anthony Moseley)
Parking Justice Lead Puppeteer (After Dark) Collaboraction (d. Seth Bockley)
Iowa Ted the Tech Guy (reading) Sanscullotes Theater Company (d. Libby Ford)
Looptopia Mad Scientist Redmoon (d. Seth Bockley)
The Seagull Treplev Another Theater Company (NYC, d. Michael Kier)
As You Like It Adam/Corin/Sir Oliver Gorilla Rep (NYC, d. Lauren Edgar)
To Be a Black Man in America Game Show Host Ujamaa Black Theater Company (NYC, d. Titus Walker)
Spring Awakening Moritz Brown U. (d. Paul Grellong)
Jesus Christ Superstar Annas (priest) Brown U. (d. Eric Green)
Dangerous Liaisons Azalon Brown U. (d. Alejandro Aixala)
A Flea in her Ear Doctor Finache Brown U. (d. Spencer Golub)
Moon Under Miami Reggie Kayak Brown U. (d. Judith Swift)


Full-Length Plays

Principal Principle d. Scott Bishop World Premiere: Stage Left/Theatre Seven, 2014
Jeff Award Nomination: Best New Work
Principal Principle d. Heidi Handelsman Brown/Trinity Playwrights Rep
Principal Principle d. Sheila Summers Dolphin Theatre (Auckland, NZ)
Principal Principle d. Suzanne Cohen Mirror Stage Seattle (reading)
Principal Principle d. Ben Brownson Theatre Seven of Chicago (reading)
Principal Principle d. Stephen Landry Acadiana Repertory Theatre (reading)
The Absent Minded d. Steve Peebles Shattered Globe Theatre (reading)
The Absent Minded d. Dennis Frymire The Ruckus Theatre (reading)
The Pigeons d. Cassy Sanders Walkabout Theater Company
The Pigeons d. Rebecca Zellar Stage Left (reading)

Short Plays

Everythingaoke d. Elly Green LiveWire - VisionFest
Kodak Shirley d. Ben Brownson Broken Nose Theatre - Bechdel Fest
Overnight Parking Ban, in Effect d. Sarah Swift Collaboraction - Sketchbook
Roll d. Eric Turner Tympanic Theatre - Today We Escape
Ferrotitanium d. Kate Lester Station Nation (Providence, RI, conceived by Erik Ehn)
At the Old Ball Game d. Stephen Anderson Chicago Dramatists (Saturday series)
The Staircase d. Bettie Stegall The Source Theater (Washington, DC)

Original Solo Shows

Hold Me, Drill Me, Kiss Me d. Chris Hayes and Alix Sobler Chicago, Winnipeg, DC
Dead White Men in Bed d. Liz Hayes NYC, Providence


"What Inspired You as a Writer This Season?" The Dramatist, Vol. 17 No. 5.5. June 2015.
Principal Principle. Dramatic Publishing. 2015.


The School at Steppenwolf - Summer 2014

On-Camera - Shannon Cochran, Matthew Miller, David Murphy

Meisner - Amy Morton, Audrey Francis, Darci Nalepa, Mark Cohen

Improv - Sheldon Patinkin, Susan Messing, Ed Illades, iO (levels 1-2)

Shakespeare/Folio Technique - Susan Hart, Jeffrey Carlson, Bob Mason, Nick Sandys

Voice - Kate DeVore, Peggy Mollenero

Viewpoints - Jon Berry

Text Analysis - Tim Hopper

Monologues - Kimberly Senior

Feldenkrais - Suzanne Thompson

Chekhov - Zeljko Djukic

Clown - Paola Coletto, Jane Nichols

Devised/Physical Theatre Workshop - Jonathan Walters, Hand2Mouth

Brown University (magna cum laude)

Solo performance - Lowry Marshall

Dramaturgy - Oskar Eustis

Alexander - Kristen Davis

Skills and Miscellaneous Information

Dialects, jazz bass, taught middle and high school for seven years and still really enjoys working with children, driver's license, passport, moderate French, moderate Zulu, moderate HTML/CSS/PHP, can work without glasses

Actor Press

This page collects photos and press clips about Joe's acting. For information about Joe's writing, click here.

The Totalitarians

by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb

directed by Carla Milarch

Theatre Nova

"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

The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence

by Madeleine George

directed by Krista Schafer Ewbank

Open Book Theatre

"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


by Melissa James Gibson

directed by Carl Menninger

Windy City Playhouse

"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

Buddy Cop 2

by the Debate Society

directed by Cassy Sanders

Pavement Group

"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)


by Tom Stoppard

directed by Jess Hutchinson

New Leaf Theater

"★★★★" Kris Vire, Time Out Chicago

"★★★★" Katy Walsh, Chicago Theater Beat

"Joe Zarrow is quite good as Chater, the cuckolded wanna-be poet and would-be rival of Septimus. This is a part that does require an air of blustery farce, and Zarrow delivers to a tee." Alex Huntsberger, Centerstage

State and Madison: The Grid

by Marisa Wegrzyn

directed by Jen Green

part of Theatre Seven's Chicago Landmark Project

"[A] fabulous little play." Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

Hold Me, Drill Me, Kiss Me

an original dental solo show

"★★★★ Mr. Zarrow is a courageous and ambitious fellow...Zarrow's dentists appear to be relatively sane; it's he who is nuts." Tim Treanor, DC Theatre Scene

"★★★★" - The Winnipeg Sun

"★★★★ No need for nitrous oxide...writer-performer Joe Zarrow gets you laughing the natural way, with his rapid-fire patter, sharp comic timing and engaging storytelling." - CBC Radio

John in Walk Two Moons, Adventure Stage

Schoolch in Bulrusher, Congo Square


Check out Joe's profile on the New Play Exchange.

Full Length

Principal Principle

5F, 100 minutes, two acts

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."
- , Chicago Tribune

"★★★★ This clear-eyed glimpse into the teachers' lounge makes hearty laughs part of an all too relevant lesson plan."
- , Time Out Chicago

"Former public school teacher Joe Zarrow achieves something 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."

"Engaging, intelligent, and important. Highly recommended."
- , Chicago Theater Review

Stage Left / Theatre Seven of Chicago - World Premiere - 2014

  • Joseph Jefferson Award-Nominated (Best New Work 2015)
  • Best-selling Theatre Seven show of all time
  • Best-selling Stage Left show in over a decade

Fontbonne University Theatre (St Louis, MO) - Production - 2018

Wesleyan College (Macon, GA) - Production - 2017

Dolphin Theatre (Auckland, NZ) - Production - 2016

Brown/Trinity Playwrights Rep - Developmental Production - 2012

Mirror Stage Seattle - Reading - 2015

Acadiana Repertory Theatre New Works Festival - Reading - 2012

Theatre Seven of Chicago - Reading - 2012

The Retreat, or Whatevs

7F, 6M, 120 minutes, two acts

NEW: 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.

Academic Production, The Theatre School at DePaul, 2019

Retcon, or Actually it's a Play About Ethics in Superhero Journalism

3F, 2M, 80 minutes, one act

NEW: 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.

Workshop, Leapfest - Stage Left, 2017

Reading, Michigan Playwrights Fest - Theatre Nova, 2017

Finalist, Downstage Left Residency - Stage Left, 2016

The Absent Minded

2F, 3M, 85 minutes, one act

NEW: 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.

The New Colony - Workshop - 2017

Shattered Globe Theatre - Reading - 2015

The Ruckus - Reading - 2014

The Pigeons

a gentrification farce

3F, 3M, 90 minutes, one act

Photo by Stephan Mazurek

When Martin's girlfriend kicks him out of their apartment for cheating, he has to find new digs quickly in Chicago's diverse, rapidly-gentrifying West Town neighborhood. To get the only existing apartment, he'll have to compete with a rabid overgrown frat boy, a Machiavellian real estate agent, a determined Polish saleslady, an embittered barista, and a flock of very angry pigeons. How far will Martin be willing to go to stay in the neighborhood he loves so much?

"Without a doubt, one can arrive unprepared forJoe 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."
- , Chicago Theater Blog

"Very funny satire."
- Chicago Reader (Recommended)

Walkabout Theatre Company - World Premiere - 2010

Stage Left - Reading - 2009



3F, 3M, 1 actor of any gender, 10 minutes

A science-fictional exploration of the transformational power of karaoke. Includes robots, pandas, and the Gettysburg Address.

LiveWire - World Premiere - 2013

The Drill

2F, 2M, 12 minutes

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.

The Appetizer Plays - World Premiere - 2015

Kodak Shirley

2F, 10 minutes

"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.

Broken Nose Theatre - World Premiere - 2015

Rondo a la Bongo

2F, 1M, teen actors, 10 minutes

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.

Piven Theatre Scene Study Class - World Premiere - 2016


2F, 10 minutes

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."
- , Chicago Theatre Review

Tympanic Theatre - World Premiere - 2015

Overnight Parking Ban, in Effect

1 actor of any gender, 10 minutes

A Chicagoan confronts the city's parking violation bureaucracy.

Collaboraction - World Premiere - 2016

At the Old Ball Game

2M, 10 minutes

The game has gone into extra innings: dozens of them. Novice sports broadcaster Guy wants to get home to his wife and child, but veteran Buck has different ideas. A metaphysical comedy morsel.

Chicago Dramatists - Reading - 2010

Contact Joe

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