Ten years ago, Hoboken resident Joseph Gallo wrote “My Italy Story,” a play about Hoboken that ran Off-Broadway. This week, the Mile Square Theatre will revive the contemporary story in a one-man production starring Emmy-award winning actor Tom Pelfrey.
The Hoboken-based theater company is also reviving their “pay-what-you-wish” policy for attendees, with a suggested donation of $25.
The play debuts Wednesday, June 17 at 8 p.m. in the new Monroe Theatrespace at the Monroe Center, 720 Monroe St. and will run for two weeks. A reception will follow the opening performance.
A family thing
Chris O’Connor, artistic director for the theatre and play producer, said the story is a family tale with local connections.
“When I describe the play to people on the street, their eyes light up,” he said. “[The main character] takes the audience on this journey into his past.”
The character, portrayed by Pelfrey, goes back to Italy in search of the unknown source of a family rift, O’Connor said. Their press release touts a story of “self-discovery…filled with warmth and humor.”
“When I saw the show, I was really moved. Anyone who is part of a family – which is anyone – will really connect with this play,” he said.
The guiding lights
O’Connor saw the play four years ago in Bloomfield, and knew that he needed to bring it back to Hoboken.
He said Gallo, the playwright, was excited to hear his play was coming home and has been floating around rehearsals, excited about the hometown release.
When O’Connor decided to bring the play back, his first thought was to have Pelfrey, an old friend and bona fide actor, take the lead. Although it seemed perfect, it wasn’t immediately feasible.
The two-time Emmy-winning friend was busy shooting scenes for his role in the soap opera “A Guiding Light” in California at the time, but “it was in the stars,” O’Connor said.
Pelfrey, who had worked with the producer when the two were graduate students at Rutgers University, came home from Los Angeles just in time for O’Connor to talk him into the role. He loved the play, O’Connor said, and everything since has been “smooth sailing.”
Directing the play is Matt Lawler, who hit it off with O’Connor as an actor in last year’s production of “Seventh Inning Stretch.”
It is Lawler’s first directorial gig with Mile Square, and O’Connor said he is handling it well. “He’s been bringing the best work out of [Pelfrey], without getting in his way.”
New theatre space
The producer said the new space at the Monroe Center is flexible and formidable – in other words, it’s exactly what they needed.
For showtimes, visit www.milesquaretheatre.org.
To try to build momentum, O’Conner said the theatre is bringing back the “pay-what-you-wish” policy, which was popular when they used it for their production of “Comedy of Errors” last year. “We really want the theatre to be accessible to people,” he said.
The theatre suggests a donation of $25, but understands that some people – like fixed-income seniors – cannot afford that. So patrons can pay whatever they can afford.
The play runs for two weeks, with some matinees being performed by Pelfrey’s understudy Chris Rinaldi. For showtimes, visit www.milesquaretheatre.org, and for reservations, call (201) 208-7809.
Timothy J. Carroll may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.