London-born Stephen Wrentmore, the associate artistic director at Arizona Theatre Company, is directing Simon Levy's adaptation of The Great Gatsby, which runs Feb. 25 through March 17 at the Temple of Music and Art. "In England, we have a similar quiz called Desert Island Discs," he says, "and I have been preparing these responses for most of my life."
What was the first concert you ever saw?
My mum and dad were obsessive jazz and folk fans . . . and I remember a fabulous gig by the bop saxophonist Bruce Turner. But if you're talking about the first ticket I bought for myself, it was either AC/DC or Gary Moore.
What are you listening to these days?
Duran Duran's All You Need Is Now, Portishead and Massive Attack, Biophilia by Björk, Girl Talk, Momus and Nick Cave, Manu Dibango and anything Stax.
What was the first album you owned?
Kings of the Wild Frontier by Adam and the Ants.
What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone seem to love, but you just don't get?
It's difficult for me when they do anodyne remakes of great songs for television, like on American Idol. They're not making art; they're making products.
What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?
I wish I had seen the Sign o' the Times tour by Prince. And the Duke Ellington band with Johnny Hodges.
Musically speaking, what is your favorite guilty pleasure?
I feel no guilt about music, but I like listening to William Topley—he had this band The Blessing, and now he's solo—and my wife can't stand his voice.
What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
"Going Underground" by The Jam.
What band or artist changed your life, and how?
I remember Ewan MacColl and Tennessee Ernie Ford being played in the living room when I was a child. The "Rio" video by Duran Duran. Malcolm McLaren's "Buffalo Gals" introduced me to hip-hop.
Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?
John Coltrane's Blue Train, or Bruce Springsteen's We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions.