Why Marry?? A Weatherman on Stage

Posted 10/2/06

By Gayle Stahlhuth

Cape May, NJ - John J. Isgro is leading a double life these days. In the mornings, he's the meteorologist who delivers the weather forecasts for NBC Channel 40 in South Jersey. But for four nights a week through October 14, he's playing Ernest Hamilton, a brilliant scientist, in the Equity professional East Lynne Theater Company's production of "Why Marry?"

The comedy is the first play to win the Pulitzer Prize, and this is the first time John has worked with East Lynne. His character is in love with fellow scientist Helen, played by New York actor Katherine Puma.

(Katherine's no stranger to film and television. She's performed in several independent films and has had roles in "Law and Order's Criminal Intent" and "Trial by July.")

Driving back and forth between Atlantic and Cape May Counties, along with his early wake-up call around 4AM has kept John busy, but he was able to take a few minutes during a rehearsal break to answer a few questions. He jumped right into his love for theater.

"I was always into theater. When I was growing up in Philadelphia, I performed at Society Hill Playhouse and received acting training at the Settlement Music School. I started out as a Theater Major at Temple University, but it was actually my acting teacher who made me rethink my major. "

"He was a working acting himself, and every day he'd come into the classroom and vent to the class about how hard it is to audition and be an actor. He'd actually say to his own acting students, 'Why would anyone want to be an actor?' So I switched majors and graduated with a degree in Radio, Television, and Film."

His first job after graduation, was with the Sports Wire Service which, at the time, was how many people received information about scores. This was before fans could get this information via the internet. John sat in front of a bank of televisions, and watched all the games at once and sent out results over the satellite service.

"My first job in television was with Channel 40. Originally, I was a cameraman, but my goal was to be an on-air personality. First, I was the back-up for the Philly sports anchor."

"No one was doing weather on weekends, so the tech director suggested that I do it. I made a demo and the News Director liked it. Six months later, I was the weekend weatherman. Then I became the full-time weather anchor."

Still, John never lost his passion for acting.

"It so happened that a friend of mine was in "Sound of Music," at Gateway Playhouse in Somers Point, and they needed an Admiral VonSchrieber. Ironically, I'd played the part in high school. I auditioned for the role and got it. Although a minor part, it brought back everything I enjoy about theater."

John then stayed active in the local theater scene, performing with Sea Isle City Players and Shakespeare in the Park. He met fellow actors who wanted to try acting in New York City, so, in 2000 John left Channel 40 and joined his friends in moving North.

After several acting jobs, he landed a one-man touring show called "Arithmetickles," with the Children Theater’s Center.

While he was in a production of "Three Days of Rain" in New Hope, PA, he worked with a director who was also a professor at Cal State Fullerton. The fall of 2004, found John pursuing his MFA in Acting at this California university.

By 2005, John was back in New Jersey and Channel 40. When I asked about his return to South Jersey he replied:

"It's just been amazing to me how many folks remember me from when I was here before and how welcoming they have been since my return."

You can see John J. Isgro along with Katherine Puma, Ken Glickfeld, Mark Edward Lang, Alison J. Murphy, Phil Pizzi, Thomas Raniszewski, Megan McDermott, and Caitlin Wallace through October 14 where East Lynne is in residence at The First Presbyterian Church, 500 Hughes St., Cape May.

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