How one couple is shaping the landscape of musical theater in North Texas
By MARK LOWRY
If North Texas has a gay power couple in the performing arts — specifically the realm of national touring musicals — it’s Jason Wise and Tony Joy.
If the names don’t sound familiar to most theatergoers, that’s not all that surprising. Though they deal with the limelight, they remain behind the curtain.
Wise is the Director of Marketing and Sponsorships at Performing Arts Fort Worth, the organization that programs Bass Performance Hall; Joy, his husband, is the Advertising and Promotions Coordinator at Dallas Summer Musicals. They’ve been a couple since 2007, marrying in New York in 2013, their co-workers and family cheering them on.
That they hold prominent marketing jobs at two of DFW’s three major presenters of touring Broadway-style plays and musicals (the other being AT&T Performing Arts Center) is a fun fact that becomes even more unusual given their backgrounds. Both came to their jobs not from the world of theater, but from sports marketing … and on opposite coasts: Joy previously worked for Nike in his hometown of Seattle, and Wise was on the marketing team for Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina, one of the country’s major NASCAR tracks.
“Everyone asks me how I went from NASCAR to musicals, because they are very different worlds,” says the adorably blond and serious-minded Wise. “But they have a lot in common — they’re both [forms of] entertainment. I learned a lot there that prepared me for this job.”
The couple met after Wise moved to Fort Worth to accept his job at PAFW; Joy was here for a conference. Soon after, Wise helped Joy secure a job at DSM and moved his tall, dark and handsome partner to Texas.
They live in downtown Fort Worth, and Joy commutes to the Music Hall at Fair Park daily on the Trinity Railway Express (TRE) and DART rail. Because of the nature of their jobs, with touring shows performing most nights of the week, it means late work nights are commonplace. Starting with the 2014–15 theater season and continuing now, PAFW and DSM officially entered into a partnership in which they book and promote tours together (and share advertising resources). The result mirrors the relationship between Joy and Wise: Two entities that share common experiences. The last three back-to-back tours — Cinderella, Dirty Dancing and Pippin — have each spent two weeks in Dallas before moving to Cowtown for another week-long run.
“We are asked how we get along when we work in the same business,” Wise says, “but for us, understanding the demands of the other’s job works out for us.”
They do find time to play, with travel being a passion. They honeymooned in Dubai and the Seychelles. This year, Joy surprised Wise with a birthday getaway to Isla Mujeres, off the Yucatan peninsula. “We love the beach,” Joy says.
And they take their vacations seriously: They leave their phones at home and unplugged.
Because they work in theater, they tend to enjoy spending their free time away from musicals. But that doesn’t mean they spend that time together. Here the two differ.
“At home you’ll find me watching sports on TV,” says Joy. And Wise? “He’s in the other room watching something political.”
After all, the area’s behind-the-scenes arts power couple has to have something of their own — something that doesn’t end in a showtune.
Mark Lowry can be reached at MarkLowry@TheaterJones.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 14, 2015.