The Guys

By Anne Nelson

Directed by Shawn Paonessa

Sep. 8 – 25, 2011

Thu. – Sat. 8pm, Sun. 4pm

Tickets: $24.50

Shimberg Playhouse, Straz Center for the Performing Arts

Days after 9/11, Joan (Roz Potenza), a New York City editor, is asking the same question Americans are asking everywhere: “what can I possibly do?” Then, she meets Nick (Paul Potenza), an FDNY captain who lost most of his men in the attack. He needs someone with the tools to help him craft the eulogies.

Stark and simple, potent and poignant, brimming with edgy humanity. It’s a generous, sad, touching play about the braveries of grief.

The afternoon meeting turns to evening, as Nick and Joan recall these ordinary guys: their humor, their faults, their passions. In the process, they discover the possibilities of friendship, their shared love for the unconquerable spirit of the city, and of course, the tango. They realize that the common thread that made these men extraordinary is the same merit that can help unite and heal us all: brotherhood. The Guys is based on a true story.
“To me, it’s not about September 11,” says Director Shawn Paonessa. “It’s about September 12. September 12, 2001 and 2011. “While the piece is still a remarkable tribute, in a way it bears a greater relevance now. Through all the war, patriotism and politics since 9/11, we’ve lost focus on the spirit, compassion and humanity we all shared in the aftermath. The Guys is a refreshing reminder that we still have that in us. That’s what these guys died for. That’s why we’re bringing this show back.”
Roz Potenza and Paul Potenza in Jobsite's The Guys. (Photo by Brian Smallheer.)

Production History

Anne Nelson’s The Guys was written in just nine days. It almost immediately opened at Tribeca’s off-off-Broadway’s The Flea and starred Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver. Since then, stars of stage and screen have taken turns in this piece across the country, as well as a film version starring Weaver and Anthony LaPaglia.

The Jobsite production began when Jobsite Artistic Associate Paul Potenza traveled to New York City shortly after September 11th and was given a tour of Ground Zero by his brother-in-law Tommy DaParma, a fireman and Queens Trustee for the FDNY. It forever changed Paul’s life. The following January, Paul saw the original production of The Guys, and he knew he had to bring this important work to Tampa. DaParma put Paul in contact with Anne Nelson to get the project moving.

Jobsite originally produced The Guys, directed by Brian Shea on Sep. 3 and 10, 2003, in the Jaeb Theater, TBPAC, and toured the production to Tampa Preparatory School and Blake High School.

Jobsite produced an encore memorial performance of The Guys directed by Brian Shea and associate directed by Shawn Paonessa on Sep. 9 and 11, 2006 at Clearwater Central Catholic High School and the Jaeb Theater respectively.

Proceeds from the productions benefitted the widows and children of the FDNY, the Hillsborough County Firefighters and the Tampa Firefighters Museum.

Jobsite produced The Guys, directed by Shawn Paonessa, as part of its mainstage season, Sep. 8 – 25, 2011 in the Shimberg Playhouse at The Straz Center.

Jobsite Board member Paul Potenza visits Ground Zero.



The Guys focuses on firefighters’ lives and the post-9/11 world – St. Petersburg Times

Spend the weekend with The GuysUSF Oracle

3 theaters make mark on Bay area – Tampa Tribune

9/11: We will not forget – Creative Loafing

Cast & Crew

  • Shawn Paonessa – Director
  • Miriam Rochford – Stage Manager


  • Paul J. Potenza – Nick
  • Roz Potenza – Joan


  • Greg Newcomb – Poster Artist
  • Shawn Paonessa – Sound Designer
  • Roz Potenza – Costume Designer
  • Brian M. Smallheer – Scenic and Lighting Designer
  • Kyle White – Choreographer

Patron Reviews

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