Getting the 411 on ‘1-2-3 Manhunt’ from Ilene Kristen and Tony DiMurro

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At the edge of a building roof, a smackdown occurs between two very different natives of the rapidly changing Lower East Side. After things get physical between the old-school middle-aged Italian returning for his last hurray and the Chinese-American teenager with faded dreams of playing major league baseball, desperate opponents unexpectedly find common ground looking outward to the city and the world at large, in an unshakably painful, often violent and sometimes funny new play that examines what gentrification and “progress” have brought about, the importance of friendship and owning one’s sins – whatever the consequences.

Ilene Kristen and Santo Fazio in rehearsal. Photo courtesy of 1-2-3 Manhunt.

1-2-3 Manhunt, written by a New York-based actor and playwright Tony DiMurro (The coyote is bleeding), directed and co-produced by Guillaume Roudebush (Equus), and starring the cast of Anthony Barile, Chris Paul Morales, Santo Fazio and two-time Emmy nominee Ilene Kristen (A life to live; Ryan’s Hope), will play an Off-Broadway engagement limited to Theater for the New Town from October 7 to 24. Developed at Naked angels and read first at The actor’s workshop (where Roudebush and DiMurro are currently members of the Playwright / Director Unit), the mind-blowing work was a semi-finalist at the prestigious National Conference of O’Neill Playwrights.

In addition to presenting significant socio-economic themes, the Off-Broadway showcase production will support Big Brothers and Big Sisters of New York (BBBS of NYC), all of the net proceeds of which will be donated to the nation’s premier youth mentoring organization and the city’s largest. Founded in 1904, BBBS of NYC pairs caring adult mentors with more than 2,500 young people each year, in the five boroughs, to inspire the next generation of leaders (97% of them are promoted to the next level and 93% are accepted. at University).

Tony and Ilene – who created the role of Patty Simcox in Fat on Broadway, has numerous Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway and digital series credits, is an active artist and board member of The Studio Theater Ensemble, and is one of the most famous faces in daytime television history – took the time during rehearsals to give us a taste of the show.

What’s the best thing about going back to the live theater? How does it feel to be back on stage?

Tony: I think it’s getting up early in the morning, getting dressed and going to the theater to work. What a privilege; I feel so lucky. And these are feelings that I don’t normally experience on a daily basis.

Ilene: It’s so great to be back in rehearsals and doing what we’re doing! The past five years have been such a strange time with the pandemic and the presidential elections, it was like a different country. But it seems normal again, in abnormal time. And with the theater’s location on the Lower East Side, it reminds me of when I was doing rehearsals for Fat downtown to the Ukrainian Center, which is even mentioned in the play. So it’s a bit like a 1970s vibe, without being so light; it’s a great experience and i love the people i work with.

I’m not really nervous, but coming back after the long shutdown of the last eighteen months, I get a little nervous – until I’m on stage, then it’s okay. Because it’s a showcase production, there’s not a lot of rehearsal time, just a few weeks, so even when we’re off for a day, I run my lines at home with my boyfriend and them. have in my head. But it’s not the same as being on stage, when they’re not just in your mind, they’re in your body. I always try to give my all – and I do!

Ilene Kristen. Photo by Donna Svennevik.

In light of your own charitable involvement in helping and mentoring children, what does it mean to you that the production pledges to donate funds to BBBS on NYC?

Ilene: It’s the best! I worked in a homeless shelter for four years in the late ’80s when the going was so bad, and spent a lot of time supervising children, both in New York and in Los Angeles. Angeles. The Latino kids in LA didn’t know me on TV, but when I walked into shelters and organizations in New York, it was funny – the kids all recognized me from the soap operas and were delighted that Delia be there with them! I am still in contact with some of them and that means a lot to me.

What inspired the play?

Tony: Inspiration is like love; who can explain it? I think my unexpectedly deceased father gave me material to work with and writing allows you to grieve and use it creatively.

Do you have a personal connection to the Lower East Side?

Tony: Yes. I wasn’t born and grew up there, I was born and raised in Jersey City, which isn’t much different in a general sense – all the guts but none of the culture. I’ve been coming to New York and more specifically the East Village since the Path train cost 30 cents. After high school I went to NYU and that’s when it became my neighborhood, and it’s still my neighborhood in some form or another ever since. This is why this place is the perfect setting for the room.

Tony DiMurro. Photo by Jody Christopherson.

Are the characters based in part on people you know?

Tony: Yes, but I think they are a composite of many different people that I have known or met. I think the term that is being used now is self-fiction. It is indeed a work of self-fiction.

Can you tell us a bit about your character Millie? What do you find most relevant about her?

Ilene: She was born and raised in New York, just like me, and she’s a tough, really wise girl on the streets, so I use a pretty thick accent, which I never really had. What we know about her from the script is that she used to raise money for the crowd so she ain’t over breaking someone’s ankle. . The details about it are sketchy because it is not its story, which gives me a lot of freedom to invent its backstory. You don’t really know your job; maybe she’s a hairdresser – she’s definitely not a banker, at least not legal! But we know she’s a real friend to Alex, and that friendship, having a story and helping someone close to her heart means a lot to her.

What is the general tone of the work?

Tony: I think it’s a tone of honesty, which necessarily means – I hope – it’s going to be a dark and a bit funny room that borders on absurdity. Dark and humorous overall.

Aside from the entertainment value, what would you like audiences to take away from the play?

Tony: I leave the public free for their own experience. More than anything, the audience informs the room. They will teach me what it is and what works and what does not. Ultimately, I hope they identify with the characters in a way – in an intimate way – that is unique to the theater.

Are you excited to work with your friend and colleague Bill Roudebush? What did he bring to the production?

Ilene: I’ve never worked with him on a full stage production before, but I’ve always wanted to. He’s awesome, very creative, and calming, so I’m honored to do that. We’ve done readings together of a Paul Minx play, and he saw me doing something at The Actors Studio, so he thought of me for that play. I had a feeling I was going to find a job, and then he called me! But that was before the pandemic, so the show has had to be postponed until now. This coming week, we really have a lot of work to do before premieres, when we put all the pieces together on stage; it will be very revealing.

Tony: I first met Bill at The Actors Studio. We are both members of the Playwrights and Directors Unit. We did a read of the play there and Bill immediately understood it in a way that taught me about it. He loved it so much that he produced it. He understands the play as well, if not better than I do. I can’t wait to see him on his feet.

Thank you very much, Ilene and Tony; it was great to have your inside perspective on the room and its background. I can’t wait to see it too!

1-2-3 Manhunt performs October 7-24, 2021 at the Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue, NYC. For tickets, go in line. All customers must be fully immunized to attend the show and are required to provide proof. Everyone must wear a face mask to enter the theater and to move around.


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