Lincoln resident takes one-man play to the big city

Lincoln resident takes one-man play to the big city

Nick Albanese, of Lincoln, left, sits with retired Broadway producer David Black, who told Albanese “The Last Sicilian” needed to make it to a New York City venue.
Performance with humor, drama and history pays homage to Italian roots, life in family’s bakery

LINCOLN – A piece of Rhode Island’s nostalgic past is making its way to New York City.
Nick Albanese of Lincoln is taking his one-man play, “The Last Sicilian,” about his childhood, Italian roots and growing up working alongside his family at their bakery to the “big city.”
Albanese, who lives in town with his wife and three children, said the 80-minute performance is a mix of history, drama and plenty of comedy from his childhood working at his father’s bakery in Providence on Charles Street.
Above the business is where he lived for much of his childhood, he said, and the story he tells in performance format is one that “brings people back to a simpler time.”
Albanese said in a time where the world is divided, he’s hoping the play can remind people what’s really important in life: family.
Speaking of the play he wrote, where he imitates family members and recounts memories growing up Italian American, Albanese said, “It’s a story of immigrants coming to America, searching for that American dream.”
His parents, who met in Sicily, immigrated to the U.S. before he was born, Albanese said.
Since Albanese has been performing the show locally in Rhode Island at various venues, including Dean’s List Academy in Pawtucket, Theatre 82 & Café in Cranston and The Granite Theater in Westerly, he said, “It really touched a cord with people.”
Guests of his shows, Albanese said, have told him the story reminds them of their own childhoods. One pair of guests, he said, took a nostalgia drive after his show wrapped up one evening, reminiscing their younger days as they drove.
The play also received a nod at the 2016 MOTIF Theater Awards in Rhode Island for “best new work,” Albanese said.
Albanese, a 1992 graduate of Mount Pleasant High School, studied theater at Community College of Rhode Island, attending classes in the evenings after delivering bread for his family’s bakery during the day. His passion led him to perform at the school, then in Brown University plays and community performances in the late 1990s, he said.
He did stand-up comedy for several years, and also developed short films, but theater pulled him back again after nearly two decades.
“I just got that bug again,” he said.
This year marks the second anniversary of “The Last Sicilian” one-man play, Albanese said, and it’s been a journey for him since.
In the play, Albanese acts out the roles of his father, “crazy” uncle and mother, to name a few characters he represents, complete with Italian accents, and the community in the north end of Providence when “everyone knew everyone.”
“It was a different time,” he said.
In his performance, Albanese jokes about the “wooden spoon,” used as a form of punishment in his Italy family, and funny memories of working at the bakery.
One of his earliest memories, as discussed in the play, is the blizzard of 1978 when he was about four years old. Albanese remembered that as a young boy, he watched as people entered through the bakery’s door and sought shelter after their bus had broken down, and recalled watching a police officer swing by on a snowmobile outside the bakery.
During that storm, Albanese said, the bakery workers invited the stranded people into the shop to warm up by the oven and eat some bread. That, he said, is one of the first moments of his life he remembers.
About two years ago, when Albanese first performed the play, he said attendees eagerly asked where he’d be performing next.
Since then, he said, “it just took off,” and gained a nod from fellow Rhode Island native Armen Garo, who appeared in “The Sopranos,” “The Departed” and TV series “Brotherhood,” who is now one of the producers of Albanese’s play, and David Black, former Broadway producer.
It was Black who sat in on one of Albanese’s performances in 2016, surprising him afterward by telling Albanese, “This show deserves to be in New York.”
Fast-forward one year, Albanese said with a smile, that’s now happening.
From Jan. 17 through Jan. 21, he’ll perform at 13th Street Repertory Company in New York City. It’s the first time his show will hit a New York City stage. Ticket information and times for those shows can be found at www.13thstreetrep.org .
Before he heads off to the big city, Albanese said, there will be a few more chances to catch him locally in Rhode Island.
On Nov. 3 and 4, Friday and Saturday nights, Albanese will perform at Theatre 82 & Café in Cranston from 8 p.m. to about 9:30 p.m., and a question and answer session will follow the show. Tickets are $20, and can be purchased at www.thelastsicilian.com .
It will be his final send-off before his upcoming two-week trip to NYC, he said. Albanese has created a fundraiser to help offset the costs of travel, lodging and theater rental, and developed a Go Fund Me page, www.gofundme.com/thelastsicilian .
Asked about his family’s feedback on the one-man play, Albanese said they enjoy it and confirm that all the comedic stories he tells are true. Once the play started to garner more attention and ticket sales continued to climb, Albanese said his father joked that he wanted 10 percent of the profit, should Albanese become famous.
Laughing, Albanese said, “My dad’s shaking me down.”

Nick Albanese of Lincoln, above and below, performs his “The Last Sicilian,” a one-man play that combines Albanese’s family history with comedy and stories from his childhood, growing up as a Sicilian American in Providence while working at his family’s bakery. The award-winning show will be performed in New York City.