BIOGRAPHY

 

Joe Patrick Ward is a playwright, composer and lyricist for theater, film 

and television.  Critics from such diverse publications as Variety, The Hollywood

Reporter, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Theatre Week Magazine

and The New Yorker have called his songs "outlandishly funny", "diabolically clever

and sophisticated", "campy and sharp-witted", "shockingly amusing", "joyous and

delicious", "hilariously memorable", "infectiously melodic" and "sidesplitting and

soulful".

Joe scored the final film in the popular "Sordid Lives" film and television

franchise, "A VERY SORDID WEDDING". Starring Bonnie Bedelia, Caroline Rhea,

Dale Dickey, Leslie Jordan and Whoopi Goldberg, the movie was written and

directed by Del Shores, with whom Joe has been collaborating for almost 20

years.  Previously, Joe scored Shores' television show "SORDID LIVES: THE

SERIES", as well as the films "BLUES FOR WILLADEAN" and "SOUTHERN

BAPTIST SISSIES".

 

On stage, Joe wrote songs for the off-Broadway show  "HYSTERICAL BLINDNESS AND OTHER SOUTHERN TRAGEDIES", the perennial cult musical "JUDY'S SCARY LITTLE CHRISTMAS" (published by Samuel French), the musical satire of fictitious Broadway flops "THE GRAVE WHITE WAY", and the dramatic play with music "THE TRIALS & TRIBULATIONS OF A TRAILER TRASH HOUSEWIFE" (published by Samuel French).


"SORDID LIVES: THE SERIES" (available on DVD/Blu-Ray), is a prequel to Shores' popular play and cult film "Sordid Lives".  

The 12-episode series originally aired on the LOGO Channel in 2008 and starred Olivia Newton-John, Rue McClanahan, Caroline Rhea, Bonnie Bedelia, Margaret Cho, Leslie Jordan and many actors from the original film.  Joe also appeared in five episodes

of the series as "Marshall", a pajama-clad lunatic running the halls of the mental institution where Jordan's character "Brother Boy" is locked up for de-homosexualization therapy.

Joe scored the film version of the stage hit "SOUTHERN BAPTIST SISSIES" (available on DVD/Blu-Ray).  He was initially involved with the original 2000 Los Angeles theatre production, working closely with Shores to help shape the play's narrative structure as it weaves in and out of musical sequences.  Additionally, Joe originated the dual stage roles of "Brother Chaffey", the "latent" church minister of music, and "Houston", the sympathetic bar pianist.  He would play these roles again in the National Touring version of "SISSIES" with Delta Burke.  When the play was recreated for film in 2013, Joe scored the soundtrack and again reprised his stage role(s).

Joe also co-created the play with music "THE TRIALS & TRIBULATIONS OF A TRAILER TRASH HOUSEWIFE" with Shores.  Addressing the difficult subject of domestic abuse,  the original 2004 stage production won the L.A. Drama Critics Circle’s Award for Best World Premiere of an Outstanding New Play, five Back Stage West Garland Awards, two NAACP Awards, an LA Stage Alliance Ovation and three LA Weekly Awards.  The play has enjoyed successful productions in Los Angeles, London, Dallas, Nashville, Charleston, Birmingham, Palm Springs, Atlanta and other cities.

The 2012 film version of "Trailer Trash Housewife" called "BLUES FOR WILLADEAN (available on DVD/Blu-Ray) starred all five members of the original stage production:  Beth Grant, Dale Dickey, David Steen, Debby Holiday and Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer.  The film retains all of Joe's songs from the stage version (sung by Holiday as "The Blues Singer") and includes a new closing song called "I Won't Listen", which Joe co-wrote with Holiday and Tony-Award winner Levi Kreis ("Million Dollar Quarter"). Joe also scored the movie soundtrack and was a producer on the film.

"HYSTERICAL BLINDNESS & OTHER SOUTHERN TRAGEDIES" was a 1993 stage musical which Joe co-authored with Emmy-Award winning character actor Leslie Jordan ("Will and Grace") who stars in the play as himself.  "Hysterical Blindness" premiered at the Hudson Theater in Los Angeles to rave reviews before moving to New York a year later, where it played off-Broadway at the Playhouse on Van Dam (now the Soho Playhouse) for seven months.  For the show, Joe wrote several satirical gospel tunes that tackled such subjects as racism, homophobia, and religious intolerance.  The New York Native review said, "Fundamentalist bigotry is personified in Ward's comic masterpiece of the evening ('The Hymn of Shame'), beating his other fine work at parodying country and church music".  Variety wrote, "One shockingly amusing song about racial prejudice would do Lenny Bruce proud."

The musical "JUDY'S SCARY LITTLE CHRISTMAS" became an instant hit after its 2002 premiere in Los Angeles, and has since been produced all across the U.S. in such cities as Chicago, St. Louis, Portland, Syracuse and Seattle. The Original Cast Recording of "Judy's Scary Little Christmas" is available on CD.  With a book by David Church and James Webber, the show imagines a fictitious 1959 Judy Garland CBS Christmas special (with Judy's special guests Bing Crosby, Ethel Merman, Liberace, Joan Crawford and Richard Nixon!) that goes terribly awry before veering into "Twilight Zone" territory, and culminating in spiritual redemption for its main characters.   The show received nominations for Best Musical from the L.A. Weekly and Best World Premiere Musical from the Los Angeles Ovation Awards.  The show's lead actress Connie Champagne won the L.A. Ovation Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her magnetic performance as 'Judy'.

The L.A. Times review said that 'Judy's Christmas' was "magical and wickedly funny!"  Broadway World said the show was "filled with gut busting laughs and wonderful musical numbers.  The Daily News wrote, "Each entry in Ward's score has the spark and wit of a number plucked from the late '50s."   And The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Ward's original songs serve the material perfectly, with the songs "Angel Star" and "Make It Shine"  both knockouts in the Garland manner." 

"THE GRAVE WHITE WAY", with original book, music and lyrics by Joe, began as a cabaret revue at Hollywood's famous Roosevelt Hotel, then transformed into a fully-realized theatrical stage production.  The show is a wicked celebration of fictitious Broadway musical flops, and creates an alter-universe of skewed Broadway history complete with fictitious composers, lyricists, directors and producers.  Some of the imagined musical disasters in "Grave White Way" include the 70's rock opera "Nazareth High" , depicting Jesus's lesser-known high school years; "Hey Helen!", the toe-tapping musical version of "The Miracle Worker"; a Sondheim-inspired retelling of the cannibalistic Donner Party called "Winter in the Woods With Donner", and a precursor to "Oklahoma!" called "Wichita!", featuring the jaunty opening number "Goin' to the Cockfights".

 

The musical also featured guest appearances by many renowned real-life musical celebrities such as Broadway legend John Raitt ("Carousel"), "Wicked" composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz and TV-film star Loretta Devine, all who played along with the joke and sang Joe's off-kilter, pastiche showtunes.  The musical was a critical and commercial success.  Variety wrote, "It takes tremendous talent to write songs that are supposed to be mediocre while making them successfully satirical and incisive at the same time. Ward accomplishes this brilliantly. Like 'Forbidden Broadway', Ward’s show has a limitless future."  The Hollywood Reporter said the musical was "a classy, sophisticated sendup and a sheer delight".  In a feature story on Joe, The Los Angeles Times wrote, "The shows and tunes may be made up, but the satiric 'Grave White Way' is a loving tribute to bad theater history."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joe composed the title song for the theatrical revue "PAGE BY PAGE", written by and starring Broadway/Film veteran Ken Page (Ain't Misbehavin'" and Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas").  Additionally, Joe wrote songs for the stage productions "SORDID LIVES" (National Touring Company), "YELLOW", "SHE'S A HANDFUL", "THE LAST BROADCAST", "PLUM PINK PEDICURE" and the children's musical "SAY 'YO HO HO!'.  He wrote the book, music and lyrics for "IN SHERWOOD", based on the many legends of Robin Hood.

 

Joe was hired as a staff composer for Warner Brothers and wrote several songs for their Feature Animation Development Department. He was also the head-writer and composer for the National Public Radio comedy broadcast "PROPAGANDA RADIO".

Joe's original songs have been performed by a seemingly endless list of well-known performers from film, theatre and television, including: 

FROM BROADWAY:

  • John Raitt (Legendary Broadway Actor: "Carousel", "Oklahoma!", "The Pajama Game")

  • Stephen Schwartz (Multiple Grammy, Tony, Oscar Winner, Composer/Lyricist: "Wicked", "Godspell", "Enchanted")

  • Billy Barnes (TV & Broadway Songwriter, "Billy Barnes Revue", "Have I Stayed Too Long at the Fair?")

  • Billy Porter (Tony Winner for "Kinky Boots")

  • Levi Kreis (Tony Winner for "Million Dollar Quartet")

  • Kelly Bishop (Tony Winner for "A Chorus Line"; star of "The Gilmore Girls")

  • Gregory Jbara (Tony Winner for "Billy Elliot")

  • John Tartaglia (Tony Nominee for "Avenue Q")

  • Stephanie J. Block ("Tony Nominee for "Edwin Drood"; "The Boy From Oz")

  • Susan Egan (Tony Nominee for "Beauty and the Beast")

  • Harry Groener (Tony Nominee for "Crazy for You" and "Cats")

  • Sharon McNight (Tony Nominee for "Starmites")

  • Isabel Keating (Tony Nominee for "The Boy From Oz")

  • Jan Maxwell (5-Time Tony Nominee: "Follies", "Lend Me a Tenor", "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang")

  • Valarie Pettiford (Tony Nominee for "Fosse")

  • Mark Baker (Tony Nominee for "Candide")

  • Ken Page ("Ain't Misbehavin'", "Cats", "Nightmare Before Christmas", "Dreamgirls")

  • Kay Cole (Original 'Maggie' in "A Chorus Line")

  • Lesli Margherita ("Matilda: The Musical")

  • Davis Gaines ("The Phantom of the Opera")

  • Mary Bond Davis ("Hairspray")

  • Connie Champagne (Multi-Award Winning Singer and Cabaret Artist)

  • Kristine Zbornik ("A Catered Affair", "Forbidden Broadway")

  • Jason Graae ("Falsettos")

  • Roxie Lucas ("Damn Yankees")

  • Jennifer Leigh Warren ("Big River")

  • Kaitlin Hopkins ("Noises Off", "Bat Boy")

  • Marilyn Sokol ("Grease")

  • Suzanne Blakeslee ("Forbidden Broadway")

FROM FILM, TELEVISION AND RADIO

  • Loretta Devine (Emmy Award for "Grey's Anatomy"; "Waiting to Exhale", "Crash", "Dreamgirls")

  • Leslie Jordan (Emmy Award for "Will and Grace"; "American Horror Story", "Sordid Lives", "The Help")

  • Yeardley Smith ("Lisa Simpson" of "The Simpsons", Emmy Award Winner)

  • Robert Mandan ("Soap")

  • Richard Kline ("Three's Company")

  • Patrika Darbo ("Days of Our Lives", "Bold and the Beautiful", "In the Line of Fire")

  • Camille Saviola ("Entourage")

  • Bruce Kimmel (Grammy-Nominated Music Producer, Writer/Star of Cult Film "The First Nudie Musical")

  • Debby Holiday (#1 Billboard Dance Recording Artist)

  • Seth Rudetsky (Songwriter and Renowned Sirius/XM Satellite Radio "On Broadway" Host)

Currently, Joe is working on a "secret" new musical destined to raise eyebrows, incite controversy and elicit laughter.  Joe would have it no other way.

Theatre, Film and Television Composer Joe Patrick Ward
Joe Patrick Ward with his "Grave White Way" team Kay Cole and Sarah Gurfield
Joe Patrick Ward as "Houston", the Bar Pianist in the film version of "Southern Baptist Sissies"
Joe Patrick Ward scoring the film "A Very Sordid Wedding"
Joe Patrick Ward at the Concert Version of "The Grave White Way"
"Judy's Scary Little Christmas"

Seattle Production 2014.