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Marcus Wehby makes thestudio@620 run smoothly

Bill DeYoung

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Marcus Wehby (at right) running sound cues for Monday's Radio Theatre Project at thestudio@620. Photo: Bill DeYoung

The “man behind the curtain” at thestudio@620, St. Petersburg’s community-centric performance space and art gallery, is Managing Director Marcus Wehby. Audiences rarely see him, but he’s always there, from the earliest production meetings to the final encores. At thestudio, he’s the wizard of aaahs.

“What I see when I’m watching a show, when we’re in rehearsals, is ‘I think this would play better if you did it this way for the audience,’” Wehby explains. “I give feedback to make sure it plays to the audience, because I’m constantly thinking about all of it. How does the actor feel in that moment? Does it relate to the audience? What is the overall experience?”

By “overall,” he means over all: “I like looking at the whole picture. When they walk through the door, how is the lobby experience, because that’s going to set the tone for the show they’re going to see. And when they go to sit down, how is the light, how is the setting? And then with the show, how are they getting the story? Does it make sense?”

His job is not to interfere with the artist at work – studio founder Bob Devin Jones’ credo has always been to give creatives room to be creative – but to facilitate.

The native of Birmingham, Alabama came to Florida with a degree in Theatre Management. “My main goal was to stage manage, but move on up to producer,” Wehby explains. “I understand what it means to be onstage – I’ve had to act, just like most people do in this field – but I love doing this side of it. Setting everything up and making sure that the productions happen like they’re supposed to.”

He boarded the 620 train in December, 2018. He’d met Jones a few years earlier; he produced a show at the studio and was taken with the city.

He’d spent years working in the Food & Beverage Department at Walt Disney World, and with Florida Southern College’s music school. “I love theater, but actually my first track was music,” Wehby says. “I wanted to produce music. I fell in love with the literature portion of it – and I love a good story. So that’s kinda what caught me.”

Jones’ unique approach to management caught him, too. “One of the things that Bob does is, he trusts the artist. So if you come in, he says yes, and he says ‘How would you accomplish that? I don’t want you to sell me your idea.’ Bob sees the potential, and I think that’s the key. We don’t get a lot of that in the world we live in.”

Thestudio@620 does not produce its own shows. There’s no regular “company” of actors, dancers, singers or artists. It’s a small – very small – staff.

“There’s a lot of overhead with big companies,” Wehby points out. “They have a huge operating budget, because with all of that overhead it takes a lot of money to produce one show.

“The studio’s focus is very different. We give a chance to people who would not get a chance anywhere else. Our overhead has to be so much lower, because we don’t have artists that we employ daily.

“So our overhead really should not be a big portion of our budget. A big portion of our budget should be ‘How can we say yes to all of these different artists, so that they have an opportunity to do whatever their art form is.’ Ultimately, we want you to outgrow the studio.”

He is truly a jack-of-all-tasks, from buildings sets to hanging lights to running sound cues. 

“I love all aspects of it,” Wehby says. “So I try to learn as much as I can from it all, because entertainment encompasses so much stuff. I’ve had experience from ballets through operas, on up to guerilla-type theater, all kinds of stuff. I just have a true passion in general.

“My dad was an immigrant, so the main focus was work hard, get a job, make money. There wasn’t a lot of time for leisure and understanding entertainment. We did sports in my family, but it was a totally different focus. It was more about getting a job.

“But when I was in high school I took a speech class. And she also taught theater. It was my first time to ever see theater. And it blew me away.”

thestuidio@620 website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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    Michele Routh

    May 24, 2022at5:39 pm

    Thank you for doing a story on Marcus, a real unsung hero! His talents are so many, but his heart and spirit in working with others is also unparalleled. He was meant for the Studio and visa versa! Much love Marcus!

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