Jeanmarie Simpson

Jeanmarie Simpson

Jeanmarie (Simpson) Bishop has been a BWW contributor in Tucson, Reno/Sacramento and Toronto, before landing in Phoenix, where she is artistic director of Arizona Theatre Matters, a theatre company for everyone. She was born in rural Arizona in 1959. Her family moved to Toronto in 1970 and she fell in love with the theatre after seeing, with her 7th grade class, the legendary production of Godspell (featuring Gilda Radner, Eugene Levy and Martin Short). She performed dozens of roles in regional theatre and stock in the US and Canada and began directing while still in her teens. Jeanmarie is Founding Artistic Director of the Nevada Shakespeare Company (NSC), from which she retired in 2008. With NSC she directed many projects, wrote original works and played myriad parts including Maud Gonne in Sailing to Byzantium, Gertrude in Hamlet, Lady M in Macbeth and Elsa in The Road to Mecca, directed by Zakes Mokae. Jeanmarie wrote and performed 263 times (including a run Off-Broadway) the play A Single Woman, about the life of first US Congresswoman and lifelong pacifist, Jeannette Rankin. She also starred in the film version that featured Judd Nelson, the voices of Martin Sheen, Peter Coyote and Patricia Arquette and the music of Joni Mitchell. In 2007, she appeared at the historic Beverly Hills Theatre 40 in the American premiere of the solo tour-de- force Shakespeare’s Will, produced by Leonard Nimoy. With Shannon Cain, co-editor of the anthology Powder: writing by women in the ranks from Vietnam to Iraq, Jeanmarie conceived the notion of creating a stage version titled Coming In Hot. Following an adaptation and rehearsal period of nine months, the play opened at Tucson’s Rhythm Industry Performance Factory in September 2009. Simpson began an international tour of Coming In Hot in March of 2010, taking it throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. She was commissioned by the Be the Change project to create a piece based on interviews with Dreamers; Liberty’s Children premiered at the Potentialist Workshop in Reno, Nevada in March 2014. She toured with her original solo performance work, Mary’s Joy, from 2011-2014. The piece explores the life and struggles of Quaker martyr, Mary Dyer, hanged in Boston in 1660. Jeanmarie now performs the play under a new title, The Joy. She  is a retired member of Actors' Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild/AFTRA, the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and the Dramatists Guild of America. She lives with her husband, Dan, in a cottage with a garden in Glendale, Arizona. Contact her through her website:



BWW Interview: Alex Tuchi of POLYPHEMUS at B3 ProductionsBWW Interview: Alex Tuchi of POLYPHEMUS at B3 Productions
Posted: Jun. 27, 2018

BWW Interview: Alex Tuchi of POLYPHEMUS at B3 ProductionsBWW Interview: Alex Tuchi of POLYPHEMUS at B3 Productions
June 27, 2018

It's really easy to write someone off as mentally ill when you don't understand them, and it's often easier to do this to yourself when you can't reconcile who you are and who you want to be.

BWW Interview: The Transcendent Kevin FendersonBWW Interview: The Transcendent Kevin Fenderson
November 10, 2017

As an artist, I always want to grow. That's part of why I took on the challenge of stage managing Depend on Me. It's given me a much broader perspective of theatre as a whole, and I'm SO grateful for that opportunity. As far as where I'd like to go artistically? Well, I can't do that alone. I love an artistic challenge, the chance to take a risk. I would love for more theatre companies to do the same. Specifically? Cast me as someone you wouldn't expect, given my size and/or gender. Give me a chance to blow a few minds. That's my dream.

BWW Review: MEET ME IN ST LOUIS at the HaleBWW Review: MEET ME IN ST LOUIS at the Hale
October 13, 2017

The Hale's newest offering is a holiday confection - sweet and delicious - like a freshly shaken up, edible snow globe. Director Cambrian James has put together his finest (thus far) staging of the season. On the marvelous arena stage in Gilbert, the tight, swift-paced send up of the classic 1944 film is enchanting, from overture to finale.

BWW Review: DEPEND ON ME at BrelbyBWW Review: DEPEND ON ME at Brelby
October 9, 2017

Depend on Me is feels like a sitcom filmed before a live audience, until just before intermission, when it takes a turn and feels like late M*A*S*H, when they dropped the laugh track and things got dark. There's a surprise ending and much entertainment in the two-act play.

BWW Feature: The Anatomy of a CriticBWW Feature: The Anatomy of a Critic
October 9, 2017

As a columnist and critic, I get a lot of feedback, some of it not altogether pleasant, some of it rather negative, and some downright hateful. We learn, early on, that there will be people who vehemently disagree with our opinions - there's simply no accounting for taste. We also learn - and it's hard to accept - that we will get hate mail from people who are furious that our WRONG criticism has been published for all the world to see.

BWW Interview: Alexis Green of SEVEN GUITARS at BTTBWW Interview: Alexis Green of SEVEN GUITARS at BTT
October 6, 2017

BWW Interview: Alexis Green of SEVEN GUITARS at BTT

BWW Feature: Black Theatre Troupe's SEVEN GUITARSBWW Feature: Black Theatre Troupe's SEVEN GUITARS
November 1, 2017

'The themes in this play, as in all in the Cycle, are universal. Unfortunately some of those themes and challenges are still relevant today. It is imperative that as a cast we explore and examine these themes before we even begin to tackle the language. Fortunately enough August Wilson's language succinct and inspiring. His characters are so clearly and powerfully structured that the journey for a cast to 'know' and 'find' these people. They are richly drawn,' Hemphill concluded.

BWW Interview: Carolyn McBurneyBWW Interview: Carolyn McBurney
September 29, 2017

Of course, we can continue to produce our own work- and there is a growing amount of that being done in the Valley. Some of the companies in town have had their awareness awakened to this issue and have started choosing scripts by and for women- some even have roles for women our age! There are also groups of women forming to address the issue - Arizona Women's Theatre has expanded its mission to that express purpose and mounted Eve Ensler's 'Necessary Targets' at MET in September. The Bridge Initiative is focusing on works by and for women. What concerns me is how we approach it. I hope that rather than be bitter and becoming entrenched, we find ways to work within the system to change it. We all need to challenge ourselves to be more proactive in ferreting out scripts that represent those not being represented- not just 'women of a certain age', but disabilities, cultures, creeds - and when we select those scripts - casting from those populations.

BWW Interview: Ricky AraizaBWW Interview: Ricky Araiza
September 26, 2017

Being out there, in nature, learning what many consider classic or ancient forms of performance, was almost a step back in time. It was a place to strip down theatre to its purest form, the actor/poet in space. It taught me to never take theatre for granted and to understand that it is a sacred practice and should be treated as such.

BWW Interview: Scott HyderBWW Interview: Scott Hyder
September 25, 2017

I have seen Scott this year in two different productions of Gypsy. He played the character Herbie in both of them. I'm inordinately fond of that show and have been a little in love with Herbie since I first saw the film sometime in the late '60s, with Karl Malden in the role. There have been many fine Herbies along the way, but none hit as many of the character's emotional and dramatic notes as did Scott in both productions, even surpassing Malden, in my view.

BWW Review: EAR at Space 55BWW Review: EAR at Space 55
September 25, 2017

Loosely inspired by the life of Van Gogh, EAR is a story as old as time. A boy loves a girl. To prove he loves the girl, the boy gives her a gift. A BIG gift. The kind you can't take back. And now the boy is in a mental hospital, at the mercy of a doctor who's even crazier than he is. And the girl? Well, she's starting to hear things, WEIRD things, late at night. It's an all-American story about love, insanity, auditory phenomena, experimental therapy, cannibalism, and talking birds.

BWW Preview: DEPEND ON ME at BrelbyBWW Preview: DEPEND ON ME at Brelby
September 21, 2017

'This story explores a different, darker side of the classic Odd Couple scenario. 'The majority of my adult life has been spent living with roommates in order to afford the cost of an apartment in the new economy' says Maticic.

BWW Interview: Devon Mahon - Creating Fusions of StylesBWW Interview: Devon Mahon - Creating Fusions of Styles
September 21, 2017

Devon Mahon is a delightful actor whom I've seen in several performances, including at Brelby in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Unexpected and at B3 in Droppin' Johns. Earlier this week, I reviewed Brelby's production of his first full-lenghth play, Whisper Sweetly.

BWW Review: WHISPER SWEETLY at Brelby - A Weekend of Perovich Part IIBWW Review: WHISPER SWEETLY at Brelby - A Weekend of Perovich Part II
September 18, 2017

Whisper Sweetly, directed with crackerjack control and precision by Perovich. Mahon has created a world that is at once funny and terrifying. He has approached his creation with wild abandon, and the story is an hilarious nightmare.

BWW Review: MY LOVE - MY LUMBERJACK at B3 - A Weekend of Perovich Part IBWW Review: MY LOVE - MY LUMBERJACK at B3 - A Weekend of Perovich Part I
September 18, 2017

Shrewdly directed by the great Ilana Lydia, B3's searing production of My Love, My Lumberjack opened last Friday and runs for only two more performances, next weekend. The piece is presented on B3's modest, storefront stage, however the production feels remarkably eerie and magical - and, GLORY BE, the voices aren't amplified!

BWW Review: The Hale Centre Theatre's KISS AND TELLBWW Review: The Hale Centre Theatre's KISS AND TELL
September 13, 2017

Director Cambrian James' fast paced, delightful Kiss and Tell gave this grumpy critic more laughs than she has experienced in a good long time - and the rest of the Hale's opening night audience was right there with her.

BWW Review: GYPSY at Theater WorksBWW Review: GYPSY at Theater Works
September 11, 2017

Amanda Glenn's turn as Louise is lovely and heartbreaking. Glenn has a beautiful voice and exquisite is her painstaking, delicate interpretation of the awkward, plain Jane who becomes the iconic burlesque queen.

September 13, 2017

In an eerie forest by the sea, far removed from the comfort of her village, Sandra escapes from loneliness into the arms of Peter, her simple, handsome lumberjack.

August 28, 2017

Wildly talented, vastly experienced director/choreographer Cambrian James' staging is at times crisp and clear and spot on.

1070 Dedicated to Slain Civil Rights Activist Heather Heyer1070 Dedicated to Slain Civil Rights Activist Heather Heyer
August 17, 2017

Arizona-based playwright and theater producerJamesE. Garcia will dedicate this weekend's performances of '1070(We Were Strangers Once, Too)' to the memory of Heather Heyer, the young civil rights activist killed in Charlottesville.