Two gifted locals will star in a new off-Broadway show, ‘A Room of My Own,” set to premiere Thursday, February 25 on the west side of Manhattan.
The heartfelt comedy recounts the early days of playwright and director Charles Messina, who wrote the show based on his experiences growing up in a tiny studio apartment in Greenwich Village in the 1970s.
Nico Bustamante, a 9-year-old from Country Club, will make his off-Broadway debut portraying the young Carl of the 1970s. Nico has been working with Wilhelmina Models and the Paradigm Agency since last year when he walked into Wilhelmina to give his 4-year-old sister a gift and walked out with a modeling deal, having caught the directors attention.
Since then Nico has appeared in a string of national commercials - three for Build-A-Bear and one for Fisher Price, with a few more in the works.
Stacey Bustamante, Nico’s mother, says her son is very humble despite having achieved so much at a tender age.
“Charles [Messina] made me realize that it doesn’t matter where you come from, because one day you will wish you could have it all back,” said young Nico, “When you are going through tough times just remember it will make you a stronger person.”
Actress Joli Tribuzio, who hails from Belmont, will appear as little Carl’s mother, Dotty Morelli - a strong, unscrupulous Italian-American.
As the crew hunted down the perfect Dotty, they posted an ad reading “must have NY in her marrow” an unmistakable trait in Tribuzio, who speaks with a strong accent.
“I definitely identify with my character,” said Tribuzio, who has been acting since the age of five, “Growing up in an apartment with my Italian-American family, with all those big personalities in a small space.. that comes with conflict, but also so much love.”
The cast has been rehearsing six days a week for the past two weeks, but they haven’t gotten sick of each other yet.
“When they aren’t doing their scenes, they’re basically having a good time during breaks...already like one big family,” said Stacy Bustamante, who has been spending her days on set with her son.
The comradery was apparent by the way Messina, writer and director, hopped on the phone without skipping a beat after Bustamante mentioned he was nearby.
“It’s about acceptance. Accepting where we come from, and being able to grow from our experiences,” said Messina in the most chipper of voices. “Nico is great playing little me and so is Joli playing my mother,” he continued, “I think growing up in the Bronx gave them a sense of how people behave... how to be real and authentic, that’s something you can’t teach.”
Adult Carl will be played by Ralph Macchio, best known for his role in The Karate Kid, and comedian Mario Cantone, best known for his role in Sex and the City, will star as an eccentric uncle.
“A Room of My Own” will be produced by Abingdon Theatre Company and will run from February 25 to March 13 at the June Havoc Theatre, 312 W. 36th Street.