BWW Interviews: John Capo - From Broadway's PR to the Internet's RAs


When a person handles public relations for legitimate productions that are running in New York City or elsewhere, they are accustomed to setting up in-person interviews with various cast members of their shows and the media. These interviews result in positive exposure and become a vital form of publicity for the vehicle which is being promoted.

John Capo, of John Capo Public Relations, represents such shows as the long-running THE FANTASTICKS and PERFECT CRIME, as well as such seasoned Broadway performers as Ron Raines who is currently starring opposite Bernadette Peters in the much ballyhooed revival of Stephen Sondheim's FOLLIES. Very often Capo will sit in on an interview he's arranged but when it came time for him to talk about a new project that he's created, he expressed a certain amount of trepidation. This was a bit awkward as he would be talking to someone he's worked with on many occasions. Still, he would be in the proverbial "hot seat" and he expressed his wariness.

Meeting for dinner at Joe Allen's, right in the heart of the theater district, Capo did seem a tad uncomfortable in the first few moments of the conversation. That changed, however, by the time the first course was brought to the table and the young publicist relaxed into what almost amounted to a stream-of-consciousness about himself, his career and his new venture into writing and directing the web series called THE RAs, which was set to premiere on September 8th on iTunes.

Born in the borough that Betty Smith immortalized in her charming novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Capo still resides there by choice. "I was born in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn," he says, "but we quickly moved to Bay Ridge when my brother was born. Our apartment wasn't big enough and we needed a house. At that time Bay Ridge was basically Italian and Greek -particularly Greek-and it had very much of a ‘neighborhood feel' to it. By that I mean people came out of their houses with pots of coffee and sat on their steps to enjoy it. We knew everyone on the block and there were kids everywhere. Everyone was trusted and every family was respected. It was safe and we'd go outside in the summer at nine in the morning and not head back home until dinner. Dinner wasn't always at your house, though; it could have been a friend's home and the place was set for you at the table. It was a nice feeling."

"There's a joke I hear that goes, ‘People from Brooklyn don't leave Brooklyn'. I don't know how accurate that is but there's a very nice feeling when I leave my office in Manhattan and travel by subway for an hour to go home. Across the street from my apartment building is the Narrows Bay with the Verrazano Bridge to the left and to the right is the Statue of Liberty. There are sailboats going by and who thinks of that as Brooklyn? It's a really special feeling. I love Manhattan and the pulse of the city but it's really good to go home and be on a different wavelength," Capo states.

There are many people who have horror stories to share about their experiences as students in Catholic schools, but not John Capo. "I went to parochial schools for a full twelve years. Grammar school was very strict," he says. "It was run by two nuns; Sister Lora and Sister Jean--who I have come to respect. They did a lot of great things which I didn't realize the value of when I was going through it. Speaking from a strictly non-religious point of view, they pushed us to do our best and I was lucky to get that encouragement. When I was experiencing it all, it did seem a little strict: especially when my friends in other schools were not getting that same sort of experience. It sounds corny but twenty years later, it matters. It made a difference."

Capo pauses and sips his drink before continuing. "I realized that on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. I was home talking to my mother and someone's name from elementary school came up. Mom asked if I'd heard from So-and-So and I had because of Facebook. Then another name came up and before we knew it we were looking through Facebook and checking out twelve or fifteen people and every single person seemed to have an amazing life. Whether they were married with children or whether they were lawyers or in the entertainment business or the Marines, everyone seemed to be doing well. Literally. I looked up twelve people and every single one of them has, seemingly, a successful life. That's not a coincidence."

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Joe Panarello is one of those people who have most certainly been born with theater in their blood. As an actor, Joe has played such varied roles as Harry Roat in Frederick Knott's Wait Until Dark, Jimmy Smith in No, No Nanette and Lazer Wolf in Fiddler on the Roof a vehicle he's performed in several times and designed the sets for on one occasion. He's also directed productions of Thornton Wilder's Our Town, Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park and Henrich Ibsen's Peer Gynt. Joe is a respected author and although his latest work, The Authoritative History of Corduroy won't be published until this summer, it is already being translated into several different languages by a group of polyglot nuns in Tormento, Italy.. The proceeds from their labors will go to the restoration of the nearby Cathedral of Gorgonzola.