Monday, March 6, 2023

Spotlight On...Joseph Hayward

Joseph Hayward

Hometown: Wolverhampton, U.K.

Education: The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. 

Favorite Credits: This past summer I directed Desperate Measures at Saint Michael’s Playhouse in Vermont. Thanks to the pandemic, we were forced to postpone twice.  Believe me, delayed gratification isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. So, to finally get to work on the show--with some of the most wonderful actors and creatives I know--was a gift I’ll cherish always. 

Why theater?: It’s cliché, but from an early age, it’s all I’ve wanted. I started putting on plays for my parents at age 3, and performing professionally by the time I was 9 (I made my debut as an orphan boy in Scrooge at The Wolverhampton Grand.) I was hooked. Now it’s in my blood and, despite “the headaches, the heartaches, the backaches, the flops,” I’m incredibly lucky to be doing what I love. What makes the theater so singular and irresistible to me is that it’s a hand-made, living work of art. It has the power to change people’s lives. I’ve had countless moments inside the theater, both as a director and an audience member, where the experience has been transformative and life-affirming. 

Tell us about Julie Sings Jule: I am over the moon about this. On April 10th, I’ll be directing Julie Benko, the wonderstudy from Broadway’s Funny Girl, in The York’s Spring Gala concert celebrating composer Jule Styne. Many of us have seen Julie’s sensational performance as Fanny Brice, and I can’t wait for the gala audience at the Theatre at St. Jean’s to experience her vast range and versatility. Tickets for the concert, which is followed by a VIP reception and dinner, are on sale now: I hope you’ll come and enjoy the extraordinary Julie--and Jule--and help The York continue “bringing musicals to life!” 

Tell us about your work at The York Theatre Company: I am the Associate Producing Director. My favorite part of the job is overseeing the Developmental Reading Series, where I help facilitate 29-Hour Readings and showcase new work. A core part of The York’s mission is to develop new musicals, and it’s deeply gratifying to play a part in it. 

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Musical comedy. If I could, that’s what I’d always do. I love watching how a room of strangers can suddenly find themselves in another world, transported by the emotional power of the story, the songs and dances. And, of course, I love the delicious sound of laughter. When that all comes together, it’s electrifying. Having said that, I just directed And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie and had an absolute ball, so I think it all boils down to the book, and the opportunity to give an audience a compelling experience. If it’s a great script, I’m excited to work on it. 

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Marianne Elliott. She’s an endlessly creative director – a visionary -- and I’d love to observe her process. 

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Life of Pi. My BFF in the U.K. built the life-sized puppets -- and watching them come to life is pure theater magic. It’s a spectacular experience. 

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I can’t imagine anyone would go see this movie (not even me), so we’d need some serious star power to sell tickets. Meryl Streep? And the movie can be called whatever she wants! 

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Ethel Merman in Gypsy

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Andrew Lloyd Webber. 

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be?: A veterinarian.  

What’s up next?: This summer I’m directing A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder at the beautiful South Orange Performing Arts Center. I’ve loved the show ever since I saw it on Broadway, and we’ve assembled a dream team of designers to bring it to life. We open in July, and tickets are available on:

For more on Joseph, visit and follow on Instagram at @jcwhayward