Theater owners excited to get back on stage

Husband-and-wife duo star in ‘Spy Love You’ at Brelby Theatre Co.
By: 
CARY HINES, Assistant editor

Photo by Cary Hines
Anabel Olguin, left, and Shelby Maticic rehearse a fight scene June 14 for the upcoming production of “Spy Love You,” which opens June 29 at Brelby Theatre Co. in downtown Glendale.

Photo by Cary Hines
The cast of “Spy Love You” warms up before rehearsal June 14 at Brelby Theatre Co. in downtown Glendale. The production opens June 29.

After a year and a half of being off stage, Brelby Theatre owners Brian and Shelby Maticic are ready to break a leg in a play written specifically for them.
“Spy Love You,” a brand new work written by local playwright and friend of the Maticics, John Perovich, will make its debut June 29 at the theater at 7154 N. 58th Drive in Historic Downtown Glendale.
Shelby met Perovich while the two were attending graduate school at Arizona State University.
“We went through grad school together and figured out that we have this mutual love for playwrights and giving them opportunities, and have some similar tastes and opinions about new works,” Shelby said. “So he pretty quickly got involved at Brelby, and we’ve produced several of his plays actually.”
About a year ago, Shelby asked Perovich what he was working on and he said he’d exhausted through the list of things he wanted to do, so she challenged him to write a play for her and Brian.
“We don’t get to act together very often because we’re always running things,” Shelby said. “So I wanted to give him the challenge of writing something that played to our strengths because he knows us pretty well as artists, and so he knew immediately that he would want to write something where we were spies, because we’re fairly physical actors.”
She told him to think about it and get back to her in a month or so.
“We kept chatting about it and he just created this incredibly irreverent, hilarious, silly spoof play that sort of draws on tons and tons of different classic spy movies and TV shows, genre tropes,” she said.
“It has little call outs and throwbacks to everything from ‘Get Smart’ to Bond to ‘Austin Powers,’” Brian said.
The shoe phone from “Get Smart” even makes an appearance, Shelby said.
“It’s the silliest thing you’ll see this year,” Brian said.
Brelby Theatre is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The Maticics started the company shortly after graduating from Northern Arizona University, where they met while working backstage on “Cinderella.” They began with a couple of shows a year, renting venues all over the Valley.
“Financially, it was a horrible train wreck, but we learned so, so much,” Brian said.
“We had a lot to learn about marketing when we were that young, and the need for it,” Shelby added. “But we learned a lot and dusted ourselves off and decided to keep going.”
That tenacity is one of their strengths, Brian said.
“We’re not afraid to try things and knowing that there’s a good chance that we’re going to fall on our face and then dusting ourselves off, learning what worked, what didn’t work, and then trying again more intelligently the next time” he said.
In the theater community, the Maticics have a reputation for being risk takers, Shelby said.
“We’re one of the few theaters in town that really produces a lot of brand new works, so we’ll take risks on Arizona playwrights, we do a lot of world premiers, and that’s not as common,” she said.
They purchased their current venue, which seats around 75, about two years ago. Before that, they were in a small storefront near 58th and Glendale avenues.
Brian is the executive director for Brelby, handling a lot of the budgeting, financial planning, and fundraising for independent shows. He interfaces with the advisory board, helping it to set fundraising goals and going after grants. He works with the city arts programs as well as with box office and concession volunteers and carpenters and electricians on the sets.
“Brian is essentially our technical director,” Shelby said.
He also teaches seventh- and eighth-grade math and science and middle school theater at Metropolitan Arts Institute in downtown Phoenix, in addition to being a new father to his and Shelby’s 8-month-old baby, Rory.
“I sleep like once a week or so, so that’s OK,” Brian said with a laugh.
Shelby is Brelby’s artistic director. She chooses the shows, vets the artists and runs the auditions. She is the casting director and the hiring manager, finding design teams and directors and partnering them up with the right projects.
“But she’s also kind of responsible for managing the volunteer base, building morale and helping point people in the right opportunities to help them grow as artists and individuals,” Brian said.
They’re both excited about getting back on stage, especially performing in such a comedic show, they said.
“It’s really quirky, it’s really fun,” Brian said.
“It’s been fun for Brian and I to play a romantic couple on stage,” Shelby added.
The show begins at 7:30 p.m. June 29 to 30 and July 6, 7, 13, 14, 20 and 21; and 2 p.m. July 1, 8 and 15.
Opening night tickets cost $30; all other nights are $25 for general admission; $20 for students, seniors and military; and $17 for children 12 and younger.
“It’s a great way to sort of escape the heat this summer,” Shelby said. “But also just sort of escape the world and forget about everything going on out there for an hour and half.”

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