Erin Marsz Fuses Guns N’ Roses and Shakespeare in Much Ado About Nothing


I’m a cold heartbreaker/Fit ta burn and I’ll rip your heart in two/And I’ll leave you lyin’ on the bed/I’ll be out the door before ya wake…

So begin the lyrics to Guns N’ Roses’ “You Could Be Mine,” Axl Rose proclaiming he could’ve belonged to an old love save for her never-ending drama. Rose is hard, passionate and heartfelt in his rock ‘n’ roll prose, his badass persona defined in hits from “Paradise City” to “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” And Rose is about to meet his match — not in a romantic sense, but a theatrical one. The lead singer of the equally badass G N’ R tribute band Guns N’ Hoses, Erin Marsz, is about to take on the role of Beatrice in the Soho Playhouse production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, which runs from May 29 to June 7. Beatrice is sharp, feisty, and soft on the inside. The power and heat Marsz applies to Axl Hose will likely come in handy for Beatrice, too.

“They both have strongly defiant punk-rock hearts that will not bend to what they see as clearly right and wrong,” says Marsz of Rose and Beatrice. “There’s a line that Beatrice says that could almost be pulled straight from a G N’ R track: ‘If I were a man I would eat his heart in the market-place.’ It’s like a missing verse from ‘You Could Be Mine.’ ”

Marsz — still sporting last night’s red lipstick and eyeliner for this conversation, and therefore pretty punk herself — was an instigator for this particular run of the show. An actress and singer since her childhood, she had taken a bit of a break from the former pursuit as she fronted indie bands Tralala and the Hotcakes. She started Guns N’ Hoses to fill a particular void: She wanted to play with more women (G N’ H is an all-female tribute). According to Marsz, tribute bands are more fun to perform in because “at least part of the creative process [goes] on autopilot and you can really focus on other things that are weird and fun, like ‘How we should do our makeup?’ ” G N’ H have been touring the country since their inception in 2011, and will be heading abroad for the first time this summer. (They were dubbed the Best Tribute Band of 2014 by the Voice.)

But through all of this singing and songwriting, Marsz had been missing her acting. So she began taking classes at the Peoples Improv Theater and performing, and it was there that she met Much Ado‘s director, Alexis Confer. The two struck up a friendship, and Confer mentioned that she used to direct shows for charitable performances. With Marsz aching to get back onstage as an actor, the two agreed it was time to put on a show together and that they’d do so to raise money for a cause they both supported. All of Much Ado‘s proceeds will go to Art for Progress, a nonprofit providing arts programming to underprivileged neighborhoods in New York.

Much Ado tells the story of Beatrice and Benedick, two biting foes who’ll take verbal stabs at each other whenever possible but who are ultimately tricked into falling in love. Meanwhile, the upcoming nuptials between Benedick’s dear friend Claudio and Beatrice’s dear cousin Hero are thwarted by blasphemous rumors about the latter’s misdeeds. It ends well, and everyone winds up married and happy.

“She is a woman who’s incredibly loyal to her friends and family and has a really deep heart,” says Marsz of Beatrice. “I think what’s true about a lot of people when you’re kind of sensitive is that you have to put a little bit of a harder shell outside so you don’t get hurt as much, and act a little bit tougher because you’re actually not that tough. [In that regard,] Axl Rose is totally Beatrice.”

So maybe Rose and Beatrice won’t exactly meet at the marketplace. But they’ll find their meeting place in Erin Marsz when she brings them to life, both at concerts and at the Soho Playhouse this and next weekend.

Much Ado About Nothing opens at the Soho Playhouse May 29 and runs through June 7. For tickets and additional information, click here.

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