On stranger tides: Rob Marshall’s showbiz voyage

by Adam Kelly

Rob Marshall is a Squirrel Hill-raised theater director, film director, and choreographer, known for directing Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the 2002 film adaptation of Chicago and the 2005 film adaptation of Memoirs of a Geisha.

Marshall grew up in a Beechwood Boulevard home deeply immersed in the fine arts, as was his sister, director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall.

Photo credit: TheFilmstage.com

Photo credit: TheFilmstage.com

Six Tony award nominations, a Golden Globe award, and six Emmy awards highlight his decorated career. His accomplishments have earned him a place in the Taylor Allderdice High School hall of fame, where he graduated in 1978. Kathleen graduated from the same school in 1980.



After his tenure at Taylor Allderdice, Marshall graduated from Carnegie Mellon with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 1982. His work with in school and with the Pittsburgh theatre scene would kick-start his life’s work.

Judith Conte, a professor of dance at Carnegie Mellon University, taught Marshall when he attended the school. Conte calls Rob a “terrific role model.”

“He’s gifted and talented,” Conte says. “Rob, as a student, was open, receptive, generous, hard working, and very diligent.”

In a Steiner Speaker Series interview at Carnegie Mellon in 2012, Marshall discussed how growing up in Pittsburgh helped him ignite his successful film and choreography career.

“Pittsburgh is an amazing place to grow up for me, because my parents are spectacular people,” Marshall explained. “They showed me so much and opened my eyes to so much that was happening in Pittsburgh at the time.”

He went on to explain how the Pittsburgh Opera, the Pittsburgh Ballet, and the Civic Light Opera of which he was a member, were all parts of his life.

Marshall went as far as to call Pittsburgh a mini-New York, because of its opportunities within the cultural arts.

Marshall’s latest project is directing and producing the Walt Disney Pictures’ film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway musical Into the Woods. It is set for release in late 2014.

The 53-year-old Marshall currently lives in New York City with his partner John DeLuca. DeLuca is co-producing Into the Woods.