After TPC, he began directing (DEATH OF A SALESMAN for West End Players and THE BROWNSVILLE RAID, the first production from the new Black Rep). He performed in a number of lead roles in new plays (HURLEY BURLEY, BREAKING THE CODE, THE REAL THING) for City Players, a classic St. Louis company, in a variety of spaces. Then joined the director of those shows, Milt Zoth, forming the Orthwein Theatre Company at St. Louis Country Day Mary Institute School. There, Joe played Hamlet, Norman in THE NORMAN CONQUESTS and Truman in GIVE ‘EM HELL HARRY plus several other roles, while directing OUR TOWN, THE YEARS, DETECTIVE STORY AND BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS. Zoth also directed him in DRINKING IN AMERICA by Eric Bogosian at Zone 8 nightclub, the first of Joe's many one-man shows.
Joe then hooked up with the late Agnes Wilcox and her company, the New Theatre, acting and directing (SYLVIA, PSYCHOPATHIA SEXUALIS).
Dave Wassilak was part of the PSYCHOPATHIA cast, and post-show discussions led to their formation of The Midnight Company. Details of that 20-year run and still counting is spelled out on the Past Performances page of this website.