By: Apr. 18, 2019
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In the Spring of 2001 playwright Patrick Riviere finished the first draft of his play The House of Nunzio. It was not his first play, but his first in years. By the fall of 2003, the full-length play described as a "humorous drama" had been named a semi-finalist in two national playwriting competitions, had been given a reading at Manhattan Theatre Club Studios and was selected for a developmental workshop at Manhattan Theatre Source. It seemed as if the play was destined for a world premiere and yet the playwright struggled to find anyone who wanted to produce it, despite the accolades and preliminary interest from some theaters.

In 2009, after Riviere had already resigned himself to the fact that the play would not have a future, Broadway Casting Director Jamibeth Margolis (currently Casting Director for Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish) read the play as a favor to the playwright. She thought the play was worthwhile and agreed to direct a private reading, after which Riviere decided that he hated the play. He did major rewrites. Another five years would pass with more interest from theaters about the play, but no production. Then in 2014, Margolis began to get the play into the hands of actors like Hal Linden, Judd Hirsch, Frank Langella, Robert Loggia, Danny Aiello and Joe Bologna as she believed if they could secure a name actor for the title character of Nunzio, the rest might follow. Joe Bologna reached out to Margolis and said he wanted to speak to the playwright. While he was not interested in playing Nunzio, he really enjoyed the play while raising some concerns with the script. The Oscar nominated writer of Lovers and Other Strangers, spoke to Riviere twice on conference calls from LA to Riviere's on Cape Cod. The criticism lined up with Riviere's own problems with the play and he took Bologna's mentorship seriously to do another extensive re-write. A private reading for producers was presented in 2015. It was also at this time that Oscar nominated actor Danny Aiello reached out and met with the playwright as he loved the play and the role of Nunzio. Riviere and Aiello would continue communications for the next two years about the play as more theaters showed interest. In April of 2015 the play was given a public reading at The Davenport Theater and in 2016 the latest version of the play was named a semi-finalist for the Road Theatre Summer Playwrights Festival.

And now, eighteen years since that first draft, the play will have a public reading at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater on April 28th directed by Sasha Bratt who directed the successful, Raging Skillet at the theater in 2018. The reading is part of ArtWeek, presented by Highland Street Foundation and produced by the Boch Center. ArtWeek has become an annual award-winning innovative festival featuring hundreds of unique and creative experiences that are hands-on, interactive or offer behind-the-scenes access to artists or the creative process. The cast features Julia Sailnger as Mrs. Monacelli, John Dennis Anderson as Nunzio, Brandon Cordeiro as Anthony and Jacob Osborne as Tommy. With gratitude for another opportunity to breathe life into this play, which seems to focus on themes as timely as ever, Riviere remembers that along the way, some amazing writers and creatives have given him inspiration in their own stories of projects taking decades to cross the finish line. Like the Little Engine, The House of Nunzio and its playwright, keep on trying.

Riviere's plays include: A Flower In Autumn (World Premiere at Café Voltaire in Chicago), The Days After, Don Juan Sees Red, Massachusetts Monarch, Remembering When I Used to Remember, Magnetic and I'm a Universalist which was selected for the Ten Minute Play Workshop in 2012. He is a member of The Dramatist's Guild.

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