Struts & Frets: Interviews with the Cast & Crew of Merchant of Venice - Josh Riffle

Yesterday's post was about Josh Mahaffey. This one's about Josh Riffle. In Hamlet Isn't Dead's Merchant of Venice, they play Solario & Salanio, and, take it from us, Josh is Josh's better half. Josh Josh's? Hm. Either way, they're an amazing duo. And if you thought Mahaffey's guitar skills were impressive, wait til you check out Riffle on the mandolin, banjo, and violin. Not all at the same time...though that does give us an Josh-y idea....

Either way, we'll quit Joshing you and let you read about Josh! Just make sure you read about Josh as well, and then come see them BOTH in Merchant of Venice.

Have you even seen them in the same place at the same time before? Just saying.

HID: First thing’s first: What’s your favorite color, and the favorite color of your character? Any why?

JHR: My personal favorite color is Lime Green, and Salanio’s is Powder Blue. I've always felt like Lime Green is a very clean color with a lot of character. It is bold, and yet also has a certain refined sense. I remember doing production of The Merry Wives Of Windor when I was fifteen or so, and the dressing rooms had a window looking over the harbor in Annapolis.  I looked out the window one time and this beautiful young lady was on the sidewalk wearing a very classy black dress, carrying probably about five or six balloons, and on her feet she had these incredibly loud lime green heels. I mean, seeing The Who at Woodstock level of loud. I was entranced by these shoes almost a block away... and then I nearly missed an entrance. But, ever since that experience, I have loved Lime Green for the strange mystique and overwhelming power it seems to have over me.

I chose Powder Blue for Salanio because Salum in Latin means “the ocean” or “the color of the sea.”  I also thought that it was a very fitting color for Salanio becuase I'm pretty sure he's a winter and could wear it without it wearing him. ;-)

HID: In this show alone, you play the guitar, the mandolin, and the violin? What else do you play, and what instrument would you love to learn to play without any effort?

JHR: I also play Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Lap Steel, Autoharp, Sitar, and am learning how to play Piano and the Accordion. 

More than anything else (without any effort), I would love to learn how to play Pedal Steel and the Oud. I am, in general, not a humongous fan of country music (more specifically modern country music - a lot of the old stuff is quite great!), however, I absolutely LOVE country instruments. And I also don't currently play anything that I really need to use my feet or knees for, so something like that would be a cool endeavor.  But also the Oud.  I just love how mellow the tone usually is, and also that it is a fretless instrument.  I am really big fan of Middle Eastern Music (thanks System of a Down for putting me on that path!), and when I working on my own music I often find myself going down paths that my current (albeit, very large) instrument arsenal cannot accomodate. The Pedal Steel and the Oud are definitely within the next few steps for me, even if those steps are more than a few thousand dollars away. :-P

HID: The scene gets cut off, but what else would you say or do to try and cheer Antonio up at the beginning of the play?

JHR: “Hey man, at least you have your health. And you’ve got a ton of ships! Even more, absolutely everyone loves you! I mean, you’re THE Merchant of Venice!” And then, if that didn't work, he'd probably start tickling Antonio. And if that didn't work, he'd probably enlist Solario to play some Tenacious D for Antonio.  If that doesn't work, then obviously we need to build a watermelon cannon. O_o

HID: Also, we don’t know how to ask this, but…what’s wrong with the Prince of Morocco?

JHR: I think you could chalk it up to hubris. He just has a very high opinion of himself and believes that he is the most clever individual with the best reasoning and the best understanding of the world around him. I like to believe he is quite well travelled, but that everything he sees of the world around him is filtered through the lens of his privileged life. I also don’t think he has to capacity to understand why anyone else wouldn’t think he was the greatest thing since sliced bread. I think his language barriers are a symptom of this detachment from the rest of the world. But, you see, he really thinks he uses the best words. Very sad. Very, Very sad. I don't think he has a Twitter though. #MakeMoroccoGreatAgain

Red state or blue, you owe it to yourself to cross whatever borders you must to see this show. Walk, run, skip, or simply let Josh's music pick you up and carry you right to the theatre. See you there!
Tickets are available at -- ON SALE NOW! Shows run Dec. 14th - 17th.

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