I really enjoy a good love story! And when that story is based on truth, it's even more enjoyable for me to watch, which is why, when playwright James Aronson was presented to me as an interview, I boiled my pasta and ate my knish while talking to James about his semi-autobiographical show, Eleganté...A Mostly True Story about an Italian Catholic guy from Brooklyn who met a Long Island Jewish Princess & what happened when they fell in love. To hear about the events that inspired this show were terrific as well learning James' secret to his successful marriage which includes some rocky times!
Eleganté...A Mostly True Story will play at TADA! Youth Theater in NYC (15 West 28th Street, 2nd Floor) through September 25! Click here for tickets!
1. This September you are premiering your first full-length play Eleganté...A Mostly True Story at TADA! What made now the right time to premiere this show? It wasn't so much of September 2016 being the appropriate time to premiere the show, it was that I had exhausted all other avenues of getting the show produced. In other words, I submitted it to playhouses and producers and so on and wasn't able to get anyone to help me out with producing the show. So, after a fundraising campaign and a fundraising dinner, I finally had the funds and focus to produce the show myself. As far as the time of the year goes, I think the fall is a good time to premiere the new show. People are away in the summer and people don't want to go out in the winter.
2. Why did you want to debut your play at TADA!? How does their theatre structure line up with yours? The TADA! Youth Theater fit the format of the play as far as being able to move set pieces on and off stage. I always had a rather simple vision of sets as far as all the scenes being done with set pieces rather than full sets. Because of this, the stage requires ample wing space to store set pieces while not being used. The Tada! Youth Theater fit that criteria, also I wanted 99 seats which the theater has, and they were very reasonable with their pricing.
3. Eleganté is a quirky cute play about an Italian Catholic guy from Brooklyn who met a Long Island Jewish Princess & what happened when they fell in love. This is story is based upon the real life meeting of you and your wife Marcy. When you think back to the day Marcy first walked into your family's restaurant, what are some of the first thoughts that went through your head? Did you immediately get a feeling in your Z Cavariccis? My character "Vincent," actually discusses what he thinks about "Marcy" with the two other waiters in the restaurant during one of the shows opening scenes. The comments he made are pretty much the exact same thoughts I had when Marcy walked through the door that first time. I thought she looked older. She was so confident and had an air of class about her that I didn't know if I would be able to keep up with. In other words, I thought maybe she looked out of my league. I wasn't wearing Cavariccis when we met, I was wearing my waiters outfit. I did, however, wear a pair of them on our first date and she hated them.
4. Was there ever a time during those early years of your relationship when you truly thought, because of your differences in backgrounds, this wasn't going to work? If so, what made you stick it out? Although the households we grew up in were quite different, our families values we're very much the same. We both realized early on that we really thought very similarly, so unlike the play, our family backgrounds never really were an issue.
5. Like your character in the show, neither one of you were quite sure where you were going in life. How did you find your direction? What was that moment like? Actually, Marcy had a very definite direction for a life. And I, although not settled in my career, knew that I wanted to be an actor. This again differs from my character "Vincent" in the show. He is definitely a little less sure of himself than I was. And a little sweeter of a person as well.
The a-ha moment in our relationship really came when I moved to California. When Marcy and I started getting serious a few months after we met, I told her that I had plans to move to California at the end of the year. We both figured that would be the end of our relationship. I think as far as love goes, lightning really struck us both once I actually moved and we realized we didn't want to be without each other.
6. What did you learn about yourself and your relationship with Marcy from writing this show? From my perspective, our relationship has really become stronger through the experience of producing the show more than me actually writing it. Marcy has been amazing in helping me produce the show. She has done all the costumes and picked up many of the loose ends. She has done everything from paint the wine glasses for the stage to help me direct the actors while I'm on stage doing my scenes. This whole experience has been incredibly time-consuming and exhausting as you can well imagine. It is amazing to know that she has my back when I need her. Sometimes in a long marriage one needs to be reminded that the two of you are a team and you can count on each other for...whatever.
7. What was the easiest part to write and what was the most challenging? The easiest parts to write were absolutely the ones that were completely true. Some of the conversations are even word for word as I remember them. The more difficult parts were of course having to create a linear story with a beginning, middle, and end. Also, weaving in fiction with the true events was a bit challenging.
8. As you have been rehearsing and starting performances, what has it been like to watch other people play out the characters based on the real life people you knew? Has there been a moment when you forgot the actor and just saw the real life person? It has definitely been touching at times. Especially since Marcy's mother just passed away in May. Some of those scenes between "Marcy" and her parents have been very bittersweet to watch. We both almost came to tears at one point. I wouldn't say I've ever gotten totally lost in any of the actor's portrayal of their real life character. But, there have been times when a few of the real people and the people on stage kind of morphed together so to speak.
9. What do you feel your secret has been to keeping your marriage in tact? We are both individuals and lead our own lives. I believe it's incredibly important for a couple to give each other space. Each person has to feel comfortable being alone and comfortable with themselves and not just feel they are part of a couple. Marcy and I both have very strong identities. This can sometimes make our relationship rocky but in the end I think we are stronger couple because we are two strong individuals.
10. The play takes place during the 1990s when neon was big. Neon is a color that's very bright and can be seen in any light, even the dark. When, in your life, are you at your brightest? That's easy. I am at my brightest when I'm entertaining people.
James Aronson is a graduate of the American Musical & Dramatic Academy located in New York City. Over the years, he has appeared in numerous stage productions both in New York & on Long Island, as well as a number of independent films & TV shows. James is an actor, writer, musician & has completed works in several different genres. Along with writing & performing original works as a musician, he has penned 5 children's books & two graphic novels. Elegante'...A Mostly True Story is his first full length play. James considers this work to be the one closest to his heart as it is the true story of how he & his wife Marcy met.