Joy gets to join his daughter on stage
It's going to be a busy summer for actor Robert Joy and that's just the way he likes it.
On hiatus from the television series CSI: NY where he plays Sid Hammerback, one of the medical examiners, Joy is returning to Canada, his birthplace, to perform in Theatre by the Bay's The Tempest.
The Barrie theatre company moved up its regular Shakespeare run to June 30 to accommodate his shooting schedule. In addition to playing Prospero, he will also be performing the father/daughter role with his real-life daughter, Ruby.
"The idea of doing a play with Ruby, my daughter, was totally irresistible," Joy said. "But it would have been irresistible anyway -- to be offered Prospero in The Tempest -- which is one of the greatest roles of all time."
In learning his lines, Joy says he is rediscovering how much he likes Shakespeare. The last time he appeared in one of his works was for The New York Shakespeare Festival, in Central Park, around 1990. In addition to its ability to transport both the actor and the audience, he really enjoys the language.
"There's just nothing like it -- it's the most thrilling language you can speak or hear in a theatre, and that almost doesn't communicate it because there is an alchemy there that transports the audience and it gets people more excited than any other writer," he said.
In addition to Barrie, Joy will also be appearing in a play called Hail in St. John's, N.L., and a new work called Pidgeon, a fully rehearsed five-performance run in New York.
St. John's is where Joy grew up -- he was born in Montreal -- and where he was exposed to theatre for the first time. His mother took Joy and his brother to see an amateur production of The King and I at the Arts & Culture Centre there when he was a teenager.
He knew from that moment on he wanted to be on stage and he followed it, acting in a couple of high schools shows and in 1970 took a summer course in London, Ont. Then he returned home and auditioned for the same theatre company that sparked his interest, and was cast in a couple of shows.
Nevertheless, his formal education -- including Memorial University in St. John's, and University of Oxford (he won a Rhodes Scholarship) -- was in English. His seminal years in theatre were spent with CODCO, a well-known comedy group out of Newfoundland.
Joy still enjoys doing comedy and one of the roles he is most proud of is an Everybody Loves Raymond episode.
There are elements of comedy in his CSI role and The Tempest also contains comedy.
" The Tempest is one of those plays that combines drama and comedy. In the old-fashioned sense it's definitely a comedy, because after going through all the trouble in the play you come out on top rather than, like Hamlet, dead on the floor," he said. "One of the reasons it's considered one of the best plays is it hits so many different notes, of drama and comedy and magic and betrayal and slapstick.
"It's like the whole gamut in one play."
It also has some stage combat and this is one of Ruby's specialities. The Toronto-based actor is part of a stage combat group called Rapier Wit.
She is also an assistant director of an after-school program where she coaches high school student in Shakespeare performance and stage combat, such as sword fighting.
She is the only child of Roy and his wife, Mary, whom he met in an off-Broadway play. They have since divorced and he has been with Broadway composer Henry Krieger for the past 16 years.
Outside the theatre, Joy says he's also a basketball "nut." He plays an average of two games a week in New York and Los Angeles, where he currently lives. He hopes to find an opportunity to play while he is here in Barrie, too.
Theatre by the Bay presents The Tempest from June 30 until July 16 at the new downtown theatre, Dunlop and Bayfield streets at the Five Points. Tickets are $25 for regular admission, $23 for seniors/students and $21 per ticket for groups of 10 or more. Evening and matinee performances are available.
To reserve, call the box office at 705-735-9243.