It’s naive to think of the holidays exclusively as being full of cheer, warmth, love, and well-wishing. It’s even more naive to think that all that well-wishing is done sincerely. Let’s be frank: half the time you’re smiling and speaking intently to your family members while eating an undercooked turkey, surrounded by screaming children, you’re actually fantasizing the conveniently-timed demise of your richest relative.
This situation is not uncommon, but rarely is it thrust to the forefront of the dinner conversation. However, this holiday season, off-Broadway theater producer and Weehawken resident Robert Nicotra is doing all he can to change that. His newest production, “Let’s Kill Grandma This Christmas: The Other F****** Christmas Story,” which was written by Brian Gianci and directed by John Dapolito, opened this past week at New York’s The Theatre at St. Clement’s.
“It’s a play that’s based on a relatively awful thought,” said the producer and longtime Weehawken resident, “but it’s one that a lot of people have around the holidays, I think.”
“There’s a lot of truth saying, which is something you don’t always get at the holidays.”— Robert Nicotra
The rest of the cast is comprised of her much younger relatives, who are named as beneficiaries in Grandma’s will and decide to speed up the process by killing her.
“It’s definitely not your normal Christmas story,” said Nicotra, “but audiences have responded really well. There’s a lot of truth saying, which is something you don’t always get at the holidays.”
“It covers a lot of different areas, but it’s not too in your face about anything,” he added. “The comedy is very quick and witty, Brian did a great job with that, and it touches a bit on the economy and politics as well.”
A long career, but home across the river
Despite living in Weehawken, Nicotra has been working in the fast-paced New York drama scene for some time, as an actor, producer, and dramaturg. Despite the fact that he majored accounting in college and worked for almost 20 years in the financial sector Prudential Securities and Citigroup, he always felt that his passion was in theater, and so he left Wall Street to pursue his dreams of stage fame.
Since then, he has produced two off-Broadway shows, “Men Without Myth” at Urban Stages and “A Room Of My Own” at The Theater at 45 Bleecker Street, which starred Mario Cantone and Ralph Macchio. He has also done work on two films by acclaimed director Michael Wolfe, “I Love You, I’ll Miss You, Goodbye” and “Maybe Tomorrow.”
The latter, which won the award for Best Feature Film at the 2012 Golden Door International Film Festival in Jersey City, included amongst its filming locations the Jersey City municipal courthouse, which marked Nicotra’s first work on the Jersey side of the Hudson River.
“We actually rewrote a lot of scenes in that movie because we loved filming there so much,” said Nicotra.
Nicotra said he has noticed a resurgent arts community in Hudson County over recent years, and would be interested in working on more projects based here, rather than in New York.
“Weehawken, and the area in general, is a great place for artists because it’s affordable and beautiful and a great place to do your art while being so close to the city,” he said.
Nicotra encouraged his neighbors in Weehawken to make the trip across the river to see the show, as it promises to be more fun than they bargained for.
“It won’t be your normal night out in New York; that’s for sure,” he said. “A lot of my friends from home have already come to see it and loved it.”
“Let’s Kill Grandma This Christmas” will run through Jan. 6, 2013 at the Theatre at St. Clement’s (423 West 46th St.) Tickets are $69 and can be purchased by visiting http://letskillgrandmatheplay.com.
Dean DeChiaro may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org