We last checked in with New York City singer-comedian-actor-writer-producer-director Larry Owens ’08 in the spring of 2018 when he was a writer on the TruTV show “Paid Off.” Since then, despite the devastation wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic, Owens has become a fixture on both the NYC theater scene and the silver screen.
In 2019, Owens scored the role that would catapult his career into overdrive — playing the lead in the Off-Broadway production of Pulitzer Prize-winning musical “A Strange Loop.” For this role, Owens won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Leading Actor in a Musical and the Lucille Lortel Award for Excellence in New York Off-Broadway theater.
Owens can also be seen on season four of HBO’s “High Maintenance,” HBO’s “Betty,” season five of HBO Max’s “Search Party,” and Amy Schumer’s forthcoming Hulu series “Life & Beth.”
When the Covid-19 pandemic arrived in early 2020, the world of live performance was sent into a tailspin. Broadway closed its doors on March 12, and performers were left scrambling to find safe creative outlets. Many performers, including Owens, found ways to continue making art during the pandemic. In November 2021, Broadway reopened its doors to masked and vaccinated patrons.
“I don’t dwell too much on the pandemic because it cut off everything that I do: being with people, creating art. So that’s what my life is returning to now,” Owens says. “The pandemic refocused parts of my multihyphenatism. Usually, my onstage or in front of the camera skills are on display. But the pandemic turned me into a writer first. It also made me, as a director, conceive of a new show for myself that is completely autonomous.”
On February 25, 2022, Owens will be making his Carnegie Hall debut with his solo show “Sondheimia,” a celebration of the life and work of musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim. Owens says, “The show honors his life before his untimely passing. It was already built as a meditation on his canon with my body as a new interpreter of the work.”
“My study of the canon began in high school. I would take out the DVDs from the carousel at March Library and study his shows,” says Owens. “I created this show in the pandemic from a need to be generative. I was given the most hours ever to dig into his work in a way that was unique to myself.”
In addition to his Carnegie Hall performance, Owens has been working on writing several scripts for major production companies, including Netflix and FX. The script with FX is a musical comedy written in conjunction with TV writer and producer Brian Fuller and the team from Pushing Daisies, with Kristin Chenoweth set to star. The script for Netflix is a feature film with Jonah Hill’s production company, JHF.
So, what’s next for multihyphenate Larry Owens? “I think everyone just has to watch and see,” says the star on the rise.