‘Close Up: Three Alphabet City Stories’ to Open at Metropolitan Playhouse in the East Village




Metropolitan Playhouse presents new solo-performances drawn from oral histories of East Village residents May 18 – June 4, 2023.  Directed by Sidney Fortner and Alex Roe, performances  will be in-person at the Playhouse home at 220A E 4th Street.

CLOSE UP is the theater’s fourteenth collection of solo-performances inspired by the lives of East Village residents.  Drawn from interviews with the theater’s neighbors, these verbatim monologues are “great theater….storytelling at its best” (Hi Drama) that capture “the face of the East Village – with all its grit, darkness, ferocity, and yes – life-saving beauty” (TheaterScene.net).  To date, the theater has celebrated the lives of 92 neighbors through the series.

Top Row: Marisol Carrere, Linda Kuriloff, Michael Turner
Second Row: Nick Drakides, Marcia A. Richard, Rafik Bouzgarrou

Presented together as a set of complementary stories, the three monologues are detailed portraits of real-life neighbors in their own words.  They are also powerful individual dramas, telling unique stories of ambition and conflict, fueled with resolutions and revelations, and driven by unexpected philosophies.  Says Artistic Director Alex Roe: “These monologues are celebrations of the lives of our neighbors.  Along with their biographies, we capture our partners’ hopes, regrets, challenges, and triumphs.  They are moving, funny, inspiring, and quite literally and profoundly, true, as they tell stories of life as it is lived.”

Videos of past performances are online at MetropolitanPlayhouse.org/ACVideos

The subjects of this year’s portraits are:
Restaurateur RAFIK BOUZGARROU, Tunisian-born owner of the popular restaurant Bin 141 on Avenue A, who opened Angelina’s Café on the block in 2002 and has served Mediterranean-inspired meals through economic and pandemic ups and downs since;

Berklee College of Music-trained jazz and standards crooner NICK DRAKIDES, a foremost Sinatra impersonator who has been featured by NPR’s This American Life, as well as a one-time bartender at The Four Seasons; and,

MARCIA A. RICHARD, author of M!ss D!agnosed, a memoir of addiction and recovery, is a certified Peer Specialist from Howie the Harp human services training program.

Portraying these neighbors will be actors:
MARISOL CARRERE (Nick Drakides), a tri-lingual, multi-award winning native of Colombia who was raised in New York and has appeared on stage and screen around the nation and the world.  Also a writer and producer of stage and film work, she is making her Metropolitan on-stage debut,  but she memorably performed an online monologue as local firebrand Carmen Pabon in our East Side Stories of 2021.

LINDA KURILOFF (Marcia A. Richard), a Yale trained actor, as well as a video creator and coach, who was born in South Africa and came to New York by way Chicago.  At Metropolitan, she presented her own one-woman show Linda Means to Wait in 2019, and she played Ruby Jackson in On Strivers Row (2017), Lulubelle Alexander in State of the Union (2019), and directed and performed in the Metropolitan Virtual Playhouse productions of 2020 and 2021.

MICHAEL TURNER (Rafik Bouzgarrou), a veteran solo-performer and presenter who most recently played C.S. Lewis in Freud’s Last Session at Florida Rep.  With and MFA from UCSD, he was in the ensemble that developed the pre-Broadway iteration of Come from Away at La Jolla Playhouse, and he has appeared in numerous film and TV roles.  At Metropolitan he was Janos Kadar in Shadow of Heroes (2018), as well as The Rector in The Rector (2020, online) and Congressman Rigby in The Taliban (2021, online).

The monologues are directed by award-winning actor and costume designer SIDNEY FORTNER, who will also design costumes, with Metropolitan’s Artistic Director ALEX ROE, who will design the set.  Lighting Design is by LESLIE GRAY, who last lit She’s Got Harlem on Her Mind at Metropolitan.

METROPOLITAN PLAYHOUSE explores America’s diverse cultural and theatrical heritage through lost plays of the past and new plays of American historical and cultural moment. The theater’s latest presentation was the trio of Eulalie Spence plays: SHE’S GOT HARLEM ON HER MIND.  Metropolitan received a 2011 OBIE Grant from The Village Voice for its ongoing productions that illuminate who we are by revealing where we have come from. Called “invaluable” by the Voice and Backstage, Metropolitan has earned further accolades from The New York Times and The New Yorker. Other awards include a Victorian Society of New York Outstanding Performing Arts Group, 3 Aggie Awards from Gay City News, 21 nominations for NYIT Awards (3 winners), and 6 AUDELCO Viv Award nominations. Metropolitan Playhouse is located at 220 East fourth Street, NYC. Follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

May 18 – June 4, 2023
Thursday – Saturday evenings at 7:30 pm; Sunday afternoons at 3:00pm

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Metropolitan Playhouse programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

$30 general admission, $25 seniors, $20 students, and $10 children 18 and under.

Masks are optional at this performance.