Mark Contorno

Mark Contorno

Though a native of Chicago, Mark’s musical theatre career began in New York City where his first show, THIS CRAZY LIFE premiered off-off Broadway. After a few more ventures in New York, Mark returned to Chicago and wrote two musicals, THE HARLEQUIN and TO FIND GOD. Currently he is a writer in workshop with the Artist Development Workshop where he has completed writing the musical, HOW DO YOU WRITE A MUSICAL...
Though a native of Chicago, Mark’s musical theatre career began in New York City where his first show, THIS CRAZY LIFE premiered off-off Broadway. After a few more ventures in New York, Mark returned to Chicago and wrote two musicals, THE HARLEQUIN and TO FIND GOD. Currently he is a writer in workshop with the Artist Development Workshop where he has completed writing the musical, HOW DO YOU WRITE A MUSICAL along with the play, THE REST OF OUR LIVES. His most recent accomplishment is his collaboration with librettist, Tommy Jamerson, composing the music and lyrics for MURDEROUS INNOCENT, which was picked up by The Chicago Musical Theatre Festival for their 2018 season.

Plays

  • DOLLS ... A Musical Revue
    This is a musical revue starring some famous dolls and some not so famous or known. Its purpose is to celebrate dolls and the places that they’ve held in our lives.
  • I Wrote A Play, Now What
    Marty O’Brien is a middle-aged gay man who had such playwright potential when he moved to New York from Chicago in his 20’s. He had an Off-Broadway success with his play, THIS CRAZY LIFE. It was that was bound for Broadway but derailed by infighting and creative differences between the producer and director.
    Thirty years later and back in his home town Chicago we find Marty working for minimum age at a...
    Marty O’Brien is a middle-aged gay man who had such playwright potential when he moved to New York from Chicago in his 20’s. He had an Off-Broadway success with his play, THIS CRAZY LIFE. It was that was bound for Broadway but derailed by infighting and creative differences between the producer and director.
    Thirty years later and back in his home town Chicago we find Marty working for minimum age at a UPS store and looking in of his best friend, a 90-year-old woman named Ellie. He continues to get his theatre ”fix” working evenings directing small productions whenever he gets the opportunity.
    One night after waxing the past and with the help of friends he decides to revive his play THIS CRAZY LIFE.
  • AN AMERICAN FAMILY / A Film Noir Musical
    It’s Chicago … 1957. Greek-American, Gus Cristakos, is the husband and father of two sons and a lovely daughter. He is also the owner of Gus’s Diner that he runs along with his eldest son, John. He has what some may call the perfect life, but he is having an affair with Myrna, one of the diner’s waitresses. Myrna tired of being Gus’s mistress confronts him and the unthinkable happens. Will Gus have...
    It’s Chicago … 1957. Greek-American, Gus Cristakos, is the husband and father of two sons and a lovely daughter. He is also the owner of Gus’s Diner that he runs along with his eldest son, John. He has what some may call the perfect life, but he is having an affair with Myrna, one of the diner’s waitresses. Myrna tired of being Gus’s mistress confronts him and the unthinkable happens. Will Gus have committed the perfect crime? Maybe … until Myrna’s twin sister, Verna, comes to town.
  • EBBY
    Ebby is dramatization of the story of Evelyn McHale, a bookkeeper who took her life by jumping from the 86th floor Observation Deck of the Empire State Building on May 1, 1947. She was only 23 years old. Student photographer, Robert Wiles, took a photograph of her four minutes after her death. The photo became iconic and it was referred to as "the most beautiful suicide."
  • JASON MEETS JESUS (6-8 minute short play)
    Uncle Jason and his niece Angie go thrifting together. Jason finds this large statue of Jesus that he's obsessed with. He just has to have it and buys it. He takes it home and what happens next? The statue comes to life and kind of tells Jason "how it is."
  • INTERRUPTED ROMANCES (A COLLECTION OF TEN SHORT PLAYS)
    This is a collection of 10 short 6-8 minute plays that talk about romances that were interrupted by different circumstances from murder to cheating on your girl/boy friend.
  • THE HARLEQUIN
    The Harlequin is the story of how three unlikely people meet in New York in 2007 and how each, in spite of their personal struggles, come together for one common purpose.

    Peter Edelstein, a gay man in his 50s, who eight months ago lost his job at a prestigious Wall Street law firm, now faces another loss. He has been evicted from his co-op on West 90th Street and is homeless. Peter crosses paths...
    The Harlequin is the story of how three unlikely people meet in New York in 2007 and how each, in spite of their personal struggles, come together for one common purpose.

    Peter Edelstein, a gay man in his 50s, who eight months ago lost his job at a prestigious Wall Street law firm, now faces another loss. He has been evicted from his co-op on West 90th Street and is homeless. Peter crosses paths with Matthew O’Malley, an aspiring musician, who has just moved to New York from Toronto, Canada. Matthew is staying at a west side hostel, but is quickly running out of money and, like Peter, will soon have no place to live. As serendipity would have it, they both meet an aging chanteuse named Julie Arthur. Julie offers Peter and Matthew lodging in an old abandoned theatre that she owns on the Lower East Side called The Harlequin. In exchange, Matthew becomes Julie’s musical director for the one-woman show she is trying to put together. This new show is to be her big return to the New York cabaret circuit.

    Things start to turn grim when Julie finds out that The Harlequin is about to go into foreclosure and that real estate mogul George Clancy has plans to knock it down and build luxury condos. Julie had taken a huge loan out on the building to help out her nephew, Leonard, with what he described as a “sure fire” business venture. Unfortunately, the business venture went bust and the loan could not be paid. Now, not only have no payments been made, but Leonard is nowhere to be found.

    The Harlequin has always been the heart and soul of Julie. It remains her only connection to her once-shining past and all its beloved memories. She and her late husband, Henry, bought the old vaudeville house in the early 1950s and performed together on its stage for many years.





    Peter and Matthew make it their mission to help Julie keep possession of The Harlequin indulging in a crazy scheme to raise the money and save it from the wrecking ball.

    The clock is ticking and time is running out. Will the Harlequin be saved in the nick of time or will greed win out and dreams be dashed?



  • TO FIND GOD
    TO FIND GOD is a Song Cycle. Peter is from a wealthy family and along with his friend Ben has just graduated college. Peter's father intends for his son to go into the family business; however, Peter has different ideas. He and Ben want to travel the world to find God. On their journey they experience both some good and some compromising experiences and just when Peter is ready to give up he finds God who Ben always knew was there.
  • HOW DO YOU WRITE A MUSICAL
    Johnny O’Brien is a middle-aged man who writes songs by night and works as a clerk at a UPS store by day. Back when he was in his 20’s he moved to New York from Chicago to write for the musical theatre. Lady Luck gave him an opportunity and he had one promising, off-off Broadway success, his musical This Crazy Life. It got great reviews, but it was managed badly going forward and ended up in oblivion. Now back...
    Johnny O’Brien is a middle-aged man who writes songs by night and works as a clerk at a UPS store by day. Back when he was in his 20’s he moved to New York from Chicago to write for the musical theatre. Lady Luck gave him an opportunity and he had one promising, off-off Broadway success, his musical This Crazy Life. It got great reviews, but it was managed badly going forward and ended up in oblivion. Now back in Chicago, years later, all he has is his memories of “what could have been.” His best friend is a 90 year old woman named Ellie who encourages him to give his talent another go. With the support of Ellie and a few good friends Johnny reaches again for his dreams that end with bitter sweet success.
  • THE REST OF OUR LIVES
    Meet Jim Whitmore, a 50-year old, handsome, bachelor who recently took early retirement from working as a psychologist for the State of Illinois. As Jim tries to navigate his life post retirement, his brother and sister-in-law are determined to finally find him a wife. They invite Jim to dinner and surprise him with a guest named Valerie and the two of them seem to really “hit it off.” Has Jim finally found...
    Meet Jim Whitmore, a 50-year old, handsome, bachelor who recently took early retirement from working as a psychologist for the State of Illinois. As Jim tries to navigate his life post retirement, his brother and sister-in-law are determined to finally find him a wife. They invite Jim to dinner and surprise him with a guest named Valerie and the two of them seem to really “hit it off.” Has Jim finally found his perfect mate? Or will Cupid shoot his arrow in a gay direction?