Archive for October 2010

October 18, 2010

October 18, 2010 – Rehearsals begin for the Philadelphia and Baltimore production of
Tony N’ Tina’ s Wedding.

October 15, 2010

October 15, 2010 – Richard Rella Jr. and associates begin negotiations to bring
the longest running show in Off-Broadway history, Tony N’ Tina’ s Wedding, to
various venues in Staten Island and Brooklyn. For show dates and times please visit
www.tonylovestina.com.

October 13, 2010

October 13, 2010 – Amidst a tenant and landlord dispute, The Deep Throat Sex
Scandal closes in NYC. For more information regarding the closing please visit
www.deepthroattheplay.com.

October 8, 2010

October 8, 2010 – Richard’ s newest article is published in the nationally syndicated
newspaper Backstage. Get it from newsstands today!

October 6, 2010

October 6, 2010 – Richard Rella Jr. signs a contract to play “ the wedding singer” in Tony
N’ Tina’ s Wedding, in Philadelphia and Baltimore through February. For show dates and
times please visit www.tonylovestina.com.

October 1, 2010

October 1, 2010 – Richard Rella Jr. is cast as “ Grip 1” in the Off-Broadway show, The
Deep Throat Sex Scandal. Previews have already begun and the show opens October
10, 2010 at 45 Bleeker Street Theatre in NYC. For show dates and times please visit
www.deepthroattheplay.com.

September 28, 2010

September 28, 2010 – On behalf of the charitable foundation, Rock and Wrap It Up!,
Richard delivers food and beverages donated by the cast and crew of USA’ s Royal Pains
to the Good Counsel Home in Staten Island.

“Ghosts Past and Present.” Backstage 2-8 Sep. 2010: Vol. 51, No. 35

Rella Jr., Richard. “Ghosts Past and Present.” Backstage 2-8 Sep. 2010: Vol. 51, No. 35

The Oxford English Dictionary defines faith as the spiritual apprehension of divine truths or intangible realities. Actors, in general, have an amazing amount of faith. Faith that our bodies will instinctively recall the choreography that we tirelessly rehearsed for weeks. Faith that our minds will hold the seemingly endless iambic pentameter verses. Faith that our voices will not crack on the soaring falsetto sections of 1960’s classic rock songs. And, above all else, faith that our abilities can and will entertain people who are not related to us. This month, my faith was tested in many ways.

The uncertainty that accompanies this unstable career often led me to question whether bills would be paid on time, let alone being able to save enough money to ever buy a home for my family. After years of scrimping and searching, my wife and I purchased our first home on Staten Island. It is a lovely three bedroom house with a front and backyard for my daughter and a washer and dryer for my wife. Even as I write, I do it from the comfort of my study, which my daughter affectionately refers to as “daddy’s woom,” instead of my bed which doubled as my desk for the past two years.

The New York company of “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding” finally closed this month. I was hired three years ago as an understudy and have performed in six different roles and in over five hundred performances. It was the longest running engagement of my young career and it taught me many things. Aside from working on my improvisational and singing skills, I learned the importance of teamwork and commitment. But as “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding” closes in New York my manager just negotiated my first directorial contract for a charitable production of “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding” at the prestigious Piazza in the Village in Dallas, Texas at the end of September. Thus I am reminded that opportunities to perform are in abundance and all around me. I simply need to keep myself open to the new and exciting challenges that this career demands.

Finally, and sadly, my grandfather, Emanuel Lewis Mangano, passed away on August 12, 2010. He was eighty nine years old and had begun to suffer from dementia. As my family continues to grieve this month over his passing, I am reminded of the words of my uncle, Francis Mangano, who succinctly spoke the eulogy at my grandfather’s funeral: “As people of faith, we must believe that this is not the end for him.  We must believe that Grandpa is beginning a new life, one where he’s no longer weak, no longer cold and has a full recollection of his time with us. Let us not say ‘goodbye’ to him.  Let us say thank you for all he has done for us, knowing we will be together once again someday.”

Faith. Who knows what lies beyond this shallow world of fancy cars, new houses, and the busy lives which we all lead. As Christians, we are called upon to unquestioningly believe that we are all going to be in a better place when our brief time here on earth has passed. While we are here, we have to believe that our God given talents and abilities will guide us to true and meaningful happiness and satisfaction. In the words of Helen Keller, “optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.  Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

“Reflection, Revival, and Renewal…and a Wedding Singer.” Backstage 5-11 Aug. 2010: Vol. 51, No. 26

Rella Jr., Richard. “Reflection, Revival, and Renewal…and a Wedding Singer.” Backstage 5-11 Aug. 2010: Vol. 51, No. 26

Finding creative things to do in between acting jobs has always been a challenge for me,  especially in the summer where work tends to slow down. This year though, I began laying the ground work early with an entertainment company called Platinum Entertainment. Primarily handling entertainment for weddings, this company was founded in 2003 by Kevin Chester and Sal Basile. I met the owners two years ago when I was hired by a couple who saw me perform as the wedding singer in Tony N Tina’s Wedding and hired me to sing at their own wedding. Initially, I was only booked sporadically as brides and grooms were hesitant to hire an unknown live singer with no demo. Knowing the caliber of my work, Kevin and Sal decided to invite me to the weddings that they were playing and surprise the bride and groom with my performance. This July has been an amazing month as I have crashed and performed at six different weddings and one bridal showcase.

During the week, as these weddings have been primarily on the weekends, I am forced to rehearse my material, take voice lessons on a regular basis, work on choreography, and find stronger pieces to perform. I have been given a rare opportunity to craft my own performance from my choice of song to the suits that I wear. As I rehearse in my one bedroom apartment, I am constantly asking myself the question, “What kind of an artist are you?”Just like my initial audition book, a three inch binder that was bursting at the seams with every song that I had sung or wanted to sing from my church choir to the tenor arias I learned in my first voice class, so too has my itunes playlist ballooned like a wood tick. The process of sifting through the plethora of songs at my disposal is quite a lengthy one. Finding material that not only showcases my vocal ability but that I can also connect to on an emotional level is painstaking. I also know that every choice I am making is defining who I am as an artist and the words that I am singing are shaping the responses that I am getting from the audiences.

This strange wedding singing process has really helped me to create my “brand.” How do I want to be perceived and what do I want to be known for? The incredible trust and confidence that Platinum Entertainment has shown continues to inspire me. They have given me a wonderful opportunity to network and perform but, more than that, they are giving me the platform to focus and create. I am ever so grateful to them as I continue to build a fan base for my work in between acting opportunities.

“Powerful Influences, Decisions, and Memories.” Backstage 1-7 Jul. 2010: Vol. 51, No. 26

Rella Jr., Richard. “Powerful Influences, Decisions, and Memories.” Backstage 1-7 Jul. 2010: Vol. 51, No. 26

With the celebration of Father’s Day recently passing, I have to share with you some stories of the most important influence in my life. If it wasn’t for my father’s unwavering support and encouragement, I would never be an actor.

My father was an actor and some of my earliest memories are of his performances. I still vividly remember watching him as he swash buckled about the stage in the “Pirates of Penzance.” I remember going back stage after performances as he would customarily give me a tour of the theater’s facility. Everything seemed so big to me then. The stage seemed like a vast jungle of creativity reaching to the heavens and the actors that I was introduced to were some of the most exciting and kindest grown-ups that I would ever meet.

My father also took me to my first Broadway show, “Me and My Girl” starring Robert Lindsay. I remember going into Manhattan for the first time and holding my father’s hand as we squeezed through the Times Square maze of pedestrian traffic. I was terrified as I was bumped and jostled but I was constantly reassured by my father’s backward glances toward me. He was sharing something special with me and I trusted him implicitly.

When I was in high school my father continued to foster my interest in the arts. He helped me choose audition material for the school musicals and coached me once I was cast. I would spend countless hours by the piano perfecting my roles as my father would hammer out my part until I could sing it without any accompaniment at all. He introduced me to making strong, active choices in my scene work and would lecture me about the dedication that I oftentimes lacked.

My father wanted me to be a well rounded performer. I was gifted with the innate ability to sing so he suggested that I attend a strong academic university. I could not care less at the time. I was a very angry high school senior who wanted nothing to do with college. I wanted to get out into the world and start working but my father insisted that I learn from his mistakes as well as prepare myself for longevity in the field. He sent me to Fordham University, Brooklyn College, the Manhattan School of Music, and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. He felt that learning from such diverse masters could teach me things that he had neither learned nor could teach me himself.

Even today, he continues to remind me of the perseverance that I need to have. As I complain about my lack of “success” he constantly encourages me to enjoy the many blessings that I have all around me. And most importantly, he reminds me that my great grandfather came to America from Italy knowing no one and having nothing. He came here because he believed that in America you could follow your dream, whatever it may be, and if you were not doing that than you were not being true to who you are. I am ever so grateful to my father. I do not know who or where I would be today without this man. Thank you dad, I love you.

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