Mark Siano in the WHITE HOT seat

Longtime friend of the Ensemble and Crooner-extraordinaire Mark Siano, is branching out. This time he’s putting down the microphone, hiding the piano and snazzy jazz outfits, and producing a chilling new drama by playwright Tommy Smith.

I sat down with Mark earlier this week to talk about his new show, WHITE HOT, starring our own Co-Artistic Director Hannah Victoria Franklin. The collaboration process goes back a long way—Hannah starred in Tommy Smith’s Sextet in September 2010 at Washington Ensemble Theatre—-Tommy and Mark were in a sketch comedy troupe called The Habit back in the day.

After a pushed back opening, Tommy Smith’s WHITE HOT made it’s sold out West Coast debut at West of Lenin on Friday.

Why Hannah for the role?
Hannah came with the package from the beginning. Honestly as soon as I read the script I couldn’t imagine those words coming out of anyone else’s mouth. She loved the script, and we went back and forth for over a year, it was always in the back of our minds…She’s a perfect actress for the role of Siss.  She’s one of my favorite actresses working in Seattle right now.

How did you come to collaborate with playwright Tommy Smith?
It’s something we’ve been talking about for at least 5 years now. He was in The Habit back in the day, most people don’t know he’s got a sketch comedy background. He’s better known for his plays that are a bit more on the dramatic side. After the success of Sextet at WET, we thought it would be a good time to do another one of his shows, while the memory was still fresh.

What do you want people to take away from this show?
I want them to think about the issues that are raised, about power, and marriage, and violence, and ruminate on those themes. Ultimately, it’s about seeing great theatre, creating great dialogue, to get your mind going.

What’s your link with Washington Ensemble Theatre?
I like to call myself the Ensemble’s “unofficial, official wingman”. Hannah called me the Ensemble’s “guardian angel”. But I love the Ensemble and love what they do. Part of doing WHITE HOT is because I was inspired by what I saw at Washington Ensemble. I saw Sextet was like “I want do something like that!” The Ensemble has such a great reputation—as very serious, very devoted and talented artists, and I wanted to put on that professional of a production with that caliber of people. I think the Ensemble could go toe to toe with big multi-million dollar houses in the quality of production.

Well thanks Mark, we like you too. What’s next on the horizon for you?
My next show is an original musical at the Triple Door a month from now, then we are taking it to New York City. It’s called Modern Luv. It’s hilarious. It’s a comedy about love and romance in the digital age. Facebook, twitter, text messaging, and about courting someone in the modern age.