Island City Stage’s Andy Rogow and Michael Leeds are a dream team in South Florida’s regional theater scene. Together, they have taken the scrappy LGBT-centric theater company and made it a force in just a few short years.

In 2014, the company’s powerful production of Dan Clancy’s “The Timekeepers,” directed by Leeds, swept the Carbonell Awards and expectations are high again in 2016 for a repeat with Island City’s world premiere of gay playwright Michael McKeever’s “Daniel’s Husband.”

Rogow, a Chicago native, got an early start in theater, beginning acting school when he was just nine years old.

“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be in theater,” Rogow said.

He completed his studies at New York University and the University of Nevada – Las Vegas before taking another shot at an acting career in the Big Apple.

“I spent seven years as an actor/waiter, well, more waiter than actor,” he recalled.

Rogow came to South Florida with a production at the old Hollywood Playhouse and soon was hired to be the artistic director. He spent nearly six years there and gained Carbonell recognition before the playhouse was forced to close.

After a short hiatus, he recognized the need for an LGBT-centric theater company and started Island City Stage.

Leeds, grew up on Long Island, the son of singers and grandson of a professional trumpet player. He also got an early introduction to the theater, accompanying his parents to Broadway shows.

Leeds got his start performing as a dancer, working with many of the biggest names in the business. After a few years, he began choreographing productions and eventually began directing and writing.

“My next door neighbor was a writer and producer for films and encouraged my writing,” Leeds said.

His musical, “Swinging on a Star,” earned Leeds a Tony Award nomination and an Off-Broadway production of “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah,” landed him a Drama Desk Award nomination.

He moved to South Florida a decade ago to help care for his mother and father and was soon in demand as a director at theaters across the vast region.

“There’s lots of great talent here to work with,” he said, “but the biggest challenge is how spread out (South Florida) is—from Coral Gables all the way up to West Palm Beach.”

Leeds was named Best Director by the Carbonell judges for his spectacular production of “Mack and Mabel” at Broward Stage Door and “The Timekeepers” for Island City Stage, along with numerous other nominations.

His hit play, “Who Killed Joan Crawford?” recently completed an extended run at the theater’s new home at Abyss Stage in Wilton Manors.

– JWA

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