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An Interview With...Nick Attanasio

STARTING OUT

How did you get started in theater?
I was in 9th grade...I always enjoyed theater but I was always to scared to
ever really give it a try...Well...I was in 9th grade and my high school was
doing a music revue called "Bits of Broadway"...I at first signed up to be in the stage crew but the director who happened to also be a teacher of mine said that he needed more guys and asked me to audition..So I auditioned and made the show...At the first rehearsal he was telling us what parts we had and what songs we were gonna sing..He told me that I was gonna be in the "Honeybun" number from "South Pacific"...I was all excited until he told me I was gonna have to wear a coconut bra, blonde wig, grass skirt and a painted battleship on my stomach...Well...at first I quit the show..then after much convincing I agreed to do it...It ended up being a show stealer and because of that I'm willing to do anything onstage..But an image of a short, skinny, having absolutely no muscle, Italian boy wearing a coconut bra and a grass skirt will forever be in the minds of the people who witness that production.

What hooked you? Was it your first school play-movie-first time seeing a
Broadway Show?  What inspired you to be where you are today?
I remember growing up watching the movie versions of "Grease" and "Guys and Dolls" and being really into it...But I would say the thing that inspired me the most was when I was in 6th grade and I went to see my High School's production of "Anything Goes"...An actor by the name of Jeff Schechter was playing the part of Moonface Martin and I thought he was incredible...watching how the people reacted towards him and how he had complete control over his audience...From then on I knew I really wanted to be involved in theater somehow...Just a side note Jeff Schechter has appeared in many movies and Broadway shows now.

What was the first play you ever saw?  Ever performed in?
The first play I ever saw was "Anything Goes"...The first Broadway show
I ever saw was "Cats" and the first show I ever performed in was in 3rd
grade.  I played Sleepy in "Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs"...I was very cute.

Did you study acting?  If not, how did you get into it?
I never really studied acting..I did attend USDAN and of course acting
classes in my colleges..but most of the stuff I learned, I learned by watching other actors I have performed with.


GETTING IN

What was your first audition?
My first audition was for a music revue at my high school called "Bits of Broadway"..still to this day had to be my worse audition ever...My first out of school audition was for Kids for Kids "A Chorus Line"..and that had to
be my 2ND worse audition ever.

How do you choose what play you will audition for?  The piece itself, the
director, theater, you were pre-cast, etc.
It's a combination of all of those except for the pre-casting part...I have never been pre-cast (yet)...There are a lot of shows I still wanna do, a ton of directors I wanna work with and many theaters I would to do a show with.

Speaking of pre-casting, tell us how you really feel about the subject.
I really don't mind it...just as long as its said before the audition.

What types of parts do you normally play?  Do you feel typecast?
I have played so many different parts..from the boy next door to a rapist... So no, I don't feel typecast.

Looking back on the roles you've been cast in, do you think there's a certain kind of role you get cast in repeatedly?  When directors look at a certain role, what do you think they see as a "Nick Attanasio" type?
Recently, up here at school, I've been cast mostly as the bad guy...which
I really really love...I can't tell you how much fun it is to be mean onstage
and have the audience actually hate you...Back home I was basically cast in all younger roles...I really don't know what directors are thinking when they are casting me...so don't know if there is an "Nick Attanasio" type...but if there is, please let me know =)


CHARACTERIZATION

What is your approach to developing your character?
I just read though the script, get my own ideas and talk to the director...I will do research if needed.

Of all the characters you have portrayed, who is your favorite?
It's a tie...Riff in "West Side Story" and Bud Frump in "How To Succeed..." ...two dream parts.

What do you think were your best roles?  your worst?
My best roles were Riff in "West Side..", Bud Frump in "How To Succeed", Jimmy Curry in "The Rainmaker" and Don John in "Much Ado About Nothing"...hmm...the Worst role has to be Bill Sykes in "Oliver!"...I was in 10th grade...I mean come on!!!...How can I be scary when Oliver is almost taller than me?!?!?

What roles offered you the greatest challenge and why?  How well do you think you met the challenge?
Bobby Child in "Crazy For You" and Jimmy Curry in "The Rainmaker" ... Bobby Child, it was my first main lead ever and I had to learn how to tap dance and everything, plus when the director comes up to you and says that "you are carrying this show"...it kinda put a lot of pressure on you... Jimmy Curry, because it was my first really big emotional part..I think I met the challenge well on both parts..especially with Jimmy because I have never in my entire life had an audience respond that way to me..walking out into the lobby after the shows and having all these people come up to me was such a wonderful experience.

What role do you wish you could have a second shot at and get it right this
time?
I would definitely say Bobby Child...even though I thought I did well, I know I could have done it 10 times better.

What roles or types of roles would you most like to play in the future?
Charlie Brown in "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown", Leading Player in "Pippin", Epstein in "Biloxi Blues", Mickey in "Blood Brothers", Rooster in "Annie", Iago in "Othello", Pilate in "Jesus Christ Superstar"...that's just the ones off the top of my head...the list is endless...as I get older I would love to play either Sky or Nathan in "Guys and Dolls" and Dr. Neville Craven in "The Secret Garden" and as I get really older I want to play Oscar in "The Odd Couple."


MOTIVATION

How do you feel when you perform?
I feel very relaxed and yet excited at the same time.

What motivates you to keep on doing what you're doing?
Because I love it...and the fact that we have the abilities to make people
laugh, cry and show all these emotions to our characters..and it keeps me sane.

During opening night jitters each one of us has said, "Why do I do this to
myself?"  Why do you do it?
(see above)


SHARING

What is your favorite theater story?
During a rehearsal for "West Side Story," we were rehearsing the rumble... we were outside and it had to be like 90 degrees, so all the guys took off their shirts...we did the knife fight, I got stabbed and then Bernardo got stabbed and then the whole rumble ensued...well the rumble was over, everyone who watched was applauding...I got up and everyone looked at me in horror...I looked down and I got cut right across my chest and blood was spilling out all over me...I got rushed to the hospital and had to have about 50 stitches...I know it's not that funny,  but its the funniest I got... unless you count the time I unhooked a girls bra onstage during a performance of "Grease".

Did you ever miss an entrance, drop enough lines for it to be noticeable,
crack up on stage?
I never missed an entrance or dropped enough lines for it to be noticeable...but I have cracked up onstage.

What was your worst theater experience?
I'm sorry to say this but "Meet Me In St. Louis" was by far the worse
theater experience ever...I did make a lot of new friends, but it felt like I
did something bad in a past life and now my punishment was being in that
show.

What's the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you on stage?
During the finale of "Man of LaMancha"...I was singing and climbing up a
ladder at the same time and I missed a step and fell right off.  This is also the same show where, during the run, I twisted my ankle and dislocated my jaw.


OTHERS

Why do you perform at the theaters you do?
Well, it was very hard for me to find a theater I would be able to call home. At one point ,I thought I had a theater I could call home, until the director and I got into an argument and he fired me and told me that I can never work in his theater again.  Luckily for me, I ended working for Chris and Kim Dufrenoy and I was able to call Airport Playhouse my home for the past 5 years.  Even though I have worked for Creative Ministries, Kids for Kids, and The Stage (where I had wonderful experiences), Airport will always be my loyalty.

Do you think regional theater will continue to grow on L.I.?
I really hope so

Who are some of the actors you've most admired or who have been particularly rewarding to work with? Who's the best (in your opinion) that you've done a show with?
WOW!!..This could be a very long list...I will attempt to name some (sorry if your name is left out) Chris and Kim Dufrenoy, John Steele, Pat Finn, Heather Van Velsor, Laura Bell, Katie Mussler, John Hudson, Leslie Valentine, Rob Wheeler (who I never worked with but I really want to), Steven Lanz-Gefroh, Ed Brennan, A.J. Gentile, Vinnie Gioia, Debbie Starker, Tony Georghan, Mike Mandato, Jeanette Cooper, Annmarie Fabricatore, Jim Redding, Steve Corbellini and the list goes on and on.

Who is your favorite performer? favorite L.I. performer?
My favorite actor in ShowBiz is Gary Senise..I think he one of the most underrated actors in the world.  My favorite L.I. performers are Laura Bell, Heather Van Velsor, Michael Buscemi and Steve Corbellini.


LIFE ISSUES

How do you maintain your career and do theater?
I'm still a student, I don't have much of a career.

Why do you spend so much time toiling in L.I. Theater?
It's fun, I really love the people and I miss everyone cause I'm away right now.

Do you find that your family supports your love of theater?
Oh yes.  They get more excited about it then I do, but there was a time I
thought my father hated it...until about a year ago I was on a college
audition and he sat in the room as I auditioned.  When we got out and found out that I got a scholarship, I can tell how proud he was of me (unless he was just happy because I got a full- scholarship)...but I think it's the first one =)

How has performing enriched your life?
It has given me a chance to meet a lot of people, make great friends, and have some wonderful and memorable experiences.


FUN

What brings you the greatest joy?
Making people forget about any troubles they have...even if it's for 5 seconds

What really irks you?
People who don't look me in the eye when I am onstage performing with
them...I don't know why, but that really irks me.

If you won LOTTO tomorrow you would.
Hmm..give money to my parents (I owe them soo much money)..buy a house, nice car, and give money to Airport Playhouse (don't hold me to that last one)

Is it true that you'd really rather be rich than good looking?
Well, since I'm both rich and good looking this question doesn't really
apply to me =)

What's your favorite word?
Slapnuts 

Assuming that there is a heaven, what do you want to hear when you get there?
I don't know if this is allowed but I have 2 answers..
        1. "Okay, in your next life your gonna be Hugh Hefner"
        2. (the real one) "Welcome..There are so many people here who  
             wanna see you"


FUTURE PLANS

Do you have any projects on the horizon that you want the readers to be aware of?
I'm currently involved in a few projects, but they are all up at my school which about 9 hours away from L.I.  I'm in rehearsals for an original show
called "Beautiful."  I play a rapist.  This is going to be very big up here.  It's gonna be televised and everything.  Then I'll be working over at the Erie Playhouse (right down the road from my school) where I'll be performing in "Scrooge the Musical."  I'm playing the nephew and Young Scrooge.  Then I have auditions for the school musical which is "Blood Brothers" (wish me luck)

Given your choice of parts in plays, which play and role is your heart's
desire?
Nathan Detroit in "Guys and Dolls"