Mamalode is producing an off-Broadway play in Missoula called Motherhood Out Loud. It’s everything they don’t tell you in What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Funny, irreverent, moving and joyous, Motherhood Out Loud shatters traditional notions about parenthood, unveils the comedy and celebrates the deeply personal truths that span and unite generations. In this interview, we speak with Marco Pennette, one of the show’s distinguished playwrights, who is a father, writer, director and producer.
Marco got his start when he was named a finalist in the Young Playwrights Festival while studying at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. His dream career on Broadway was put on hold though, when his TV script for Kate and Allie was picked up and he relocated to LA. Since then, he’s worked as a writer and producer for a few little TV shows you may have heard of including Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, Mom, What I Like About You, Samantha Who and Kirstie to name only a few. His IMDb page reads like a list of some of my all-time favorite TV shows. So for all of you (ok, us) who ugly-cried when Desperate Housewives ended; a collective fan-girl moment.
You have worked on some of the biggest and most beloved TV shows of our time – can you tell us a bit about how you got here?
I actually started in theater. I interned for Harold Prince while I was at NYU. But after I sold a freelance script to Kate & Allie, I decided to try my hand at sitcom writing. I moved to Los Angeles in spring of 1989 and was lucky enough to land a staff job on the sitcom “Dear John” starring Judd Hirsch. I was 22 years old and working in the same room as writers from “Maude,” “The Odd Couple” and many other iconic shows. I learned so much from them, it was as if that was my real college education. Back then, once you were in “the club,” it seemed like you just moved from show to show. These days I think it’s much more competitive and harder to break in.
What is the best part about your job? The worst part (if there is one)?
Simple. I get to laugh with funny, smart people all day. I guess the worst part would be one of those weeks when the script just isn’t working and there’s a clock ticking because you have to shoot it in a few days. There’s a saying that goes, “You don’t shoot it because it’s ready, you shoot it because it’s Friday.”
Your on-screen credits are so diverse: writer, producer, director – is there a role you feel most at home in?
I’m a writer. When you’re running a show, in addition to being responsible for the scripts, you end up going to casting, set meetings, wardrobe, etc. and they call you a “Producer.” But I’m most at home in the writer’s room.
Of all the different projects you’ve worked on throughout your career, are there any that stand out as favorites?
Besides writing my piece for “Motherhood Out Loud,” last year I got to rewrite the book for the Broadway revival of “On The 20th Century.” Since theater is my first love, these were definite highlights.
How did you get involved with Motherhood Out Loud? What is it about this show that made you want to be a part of it?
I knew Joan Stein a bit and she asked if I wanted to participate. I jumped at the chance, as I was a fan of so many of the other writers involved and I loved the idea of getting to write about my experience as a gay parent.
If you could give our audience two reasons why they should see Motherhood Out Loud (or license the play to produce in their own community), what would you say?
The most successful theater I’ve seen is when it can hit a variety of emotions. It sounds cliché but I’ve watched people laughing at one piece and the next moment tearing up at another. Everyone seems to relate to it on some level. Many people watch a show and then when it’s over simply talk about where they want to go eat dinner. But after “Motherhood Out Loud” all I hear are audience members discussing the different pieces. Once I heard a kid, maybe 20 years, turn to his girlfriend as they were leaving and say, “I’ve gotta call my mother.” That made me happy to be a part of the show.
Okay, last but not least, I have to ask, what is your favorite TV show to watch?
Chopped. I love to cook.