5 Questions With: Playwright & Actor Nick Albanese Talks About Many Sides to the Reaper

reaperMany Sides to the Reaper is the newest play from local playwright and actor Nick Albanese, author of the popular (and Motif award-winning) one man show The Last Sicilian. Reaper is based on the true story of the life and family of a Mafia hit-man living in 1980s Brooklyn, NY. Sal is a family man, businessman and a “made man” with the Columbo family. The show’s  materials tease that those facts are “just half the story,“ going on to invite audiences to “experience the many sides to this complicated character as you get a glimpse into, what is sometimes hard to believe, his real life.” I spoke with the show’s writer, producer (and star) about how Many Sides to the Reaper came to be written and how The Granite Theatre made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Marilyn Busch:  The play is about the Scarbella family and is told through the eyes of the daughter of a mobster. Can you go into a bit more detail about the history of the play and how you decided to write it?

Nick Albanese:  The play is based on true events of a hitman in the Colombo family in the 1980s in Brooklyn, New York. I was watching a mafia documentary that mentioned this man and he sounded interesting, so I researched him more and was thinking it would be great to write any mafia play.

MB: How did you research the world of the play? Do you actually know anyone involved in this life?

NA: I read a lot of different articles and watched a bunch of different documentaries and as far as knowing people in that life… I plead the fifth.

MB: Congratulations on the run in Cranston of the show. How was the show received?

NA: The show was very well received. I knew people would like it but during the Q&A afterward, people were saying how much they really loved it!

MB: Do you think anyone “in the know” has seen the show? What do you think they’d say about your interpretation of life in the mob?

NA: During one of the performances a gentleman came who actually spoke with one of the cast members afterward and said he was a crew member in this gangster’s crew and from what he told us, we got it more spot on then we thought we did. And another time a woman came up to me after the show and said she grew up just like that, with her father being in the Mafia.

MB: There is some serious drama in a show about a hitman — how did you happen to bring it to Westerly at the Granite Theatre?

NA: Cast member John Cillino of Westerly, who plays FBI agent Lenny Demato, serves on the board at the Granite Theater. After casting him, he suggested bringing it down to Westerly. I thought it was a great idea, so that’s what we did.

MB: Any plans on touring the show further? NY perhaps? What about a screenplay?

NA: As far as touring, with a one-man play it’s very easy to bring it to many locations, but when you have a cast of 10 … it’s kind of a bit harder. And as far as New York, if I got someone to invest then that would be a definite. At the moment I’m working on my screenplay version of The Last Sicilian, so I’m not even thinking about this one yet.

Many Sides to the Reaper is written by Nick Albanese of Last Sicilian Productions, directed by Rhiannon Annin and produced by Albanese and Mario Carneiro. The cast features Chantell Arraial, Rachel Nadeau, Patricia Whittaker Elliott, Mike Gambit Daniels, Mario Carneiro, Bob Mignarri, Regan Eysman Franklin and Christopher Silva. Based on the true story of a Mafia hit-man, set in 1980s Brooklyn, NY. After a successful three-weekend run at Theatre 82 in Cranston, the show will be performed for one weekend only at The Granite Theatre, One Granite St, Westerly. Performances are Friday, November 2 at 8pm, Saturday, November 3 at 8pm and Sunday, November 4 at 2pm. Tickets are available online at granitetheatre.com.


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