Elvis Nolasco To Star In The American Place Theatre Stage Presentation of the Junot Díaz Epic: The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Elvis Nolasco was born in New York City, the second of three sons of parents who immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic. From a young age Elvis was drawn to entertainment, when as a young boy he would spend evenings dancing to Latin music in his family home. His love of Salsa led to an interest in break dancing, and he spent nights dancing with legendary break dancers, Soul Sonic Rockers and Rock Steady Crew. His dance ability and style would later help to open doors to establish a solid career that spans film, theatre, and television. Soon after arriving in Philadelphia to study acting, Elvis began winning a succession of leading roles in theatres around Philadelphia including the Arden, Freedom Theatre, Walnut Street Theatre and American Musical Theatre Festival. It was not long before Elvis was picked to co-star in the hit comedy I Like It Like That with Lauren Valez and Academy, Grammy Tony and Emmy winning actress Rita Morena. Soon Elvis was cast by Spike Lee for the film Clockers with Mekhi Phiffer and Delroy Lindo. Elvis began building a line of great performances in several independent hits, including his critically acclaimed role in the film In Search of a Dream, the first all Spanish speaking cast sanctioned by the Screen Actors Guild and the number one grossing independent Latino film. Elvis has generated a stream of memorable film characters including roles in The Kitchen, Rock Steady, Vodka Rocks, Inconsolable Memories, I’m Not Rappaport, Prison Song, Philadelphia, and Secuestro on the Showtime network. Also, Elvis recently starred in the film White which premiered in Spring 2011 on PBS. Elvis has guest starred in several television series including Law & Order, NYPD Blue, Law & Order SVU and Third Watch. He appeared in the recurring role as Abe in the Spike Lee series, Miracle Boys. Elvis continues to appear on stage, working both off Broadway and regional theatre including New York Theatre Works, Baltimore Center Stage, Young Playwright Festival, INTAR and New World Stage’s off-Broadway smash hit Celia: The Life and Music of Celia Cruz. Elvis worked for many years as a teaching artist for The Manhattan Theater Club, The Children’s Aid Society, Philadelphia Family Services and The Young Playwrights Festival. He finds his work with The American Place Theatre extremely gratifying because he gets to utilize his tools as an artist and educator to inspire and help young people.
Photo here by Sylvain Gournay.
For a bi-lingual (Spanish-English) video interview by Preston Lopez with Elvis Nolasco
for U-Tube, go to:
About The Play:
Adapted and Directed by Elise Thoron
The new show—adapted for the stage and directed by Elise Thoron, Associate Artistic Director for The American Place Theatre— is a verbatim version of the novel done in about an hour, a challenging task for a book rich in characters, history, footnotes, and real and made-up words in Spanish and English, such as “fukú” and “ghettonerd.”Its very complicated,” says David Kener, executive director of The American Place Theatre. “It might be one of the most complicated adaptations we’ve done.” Nolasco, who is in his 30s, plays various characters, including Oscar, the obese sci-fi fan at the center of the book; his mother, Belicia; his sister, Lola; his grandmother, Nena Inca; and Yunior, the narrator.
Most often The American Place Theatre shows are performed for students on school campuses, preceded and followed by conversations facilitated by actor/teachers about the work, but on November 11 at 2 p. m., The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao will have a general audience presentation, including students attending on a complimentary basis. The format will be the same, preceded by a background conversation and followed by a Q&A.
“I’m really privileged to be in a place were I can encourage young people not only to continue reading but teach them how important literature is as well as the performing arts,” Nolasco said in several recent media interviews.
The American Place Theatre, a New York-based not-for-profit, has adapted as solo shows almost 20 books, many of them with an Hispanic theme, including’s Mambo Mouth by John Leguizamo, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, and Lemon Andersen’s County of Kings. Last year, Words & Music presented their adaptation of National Book Award winner
Tim O’Brien’s moving Vietnam book, The Things They Carried. O’Brien, keynote speaker for Words & Music, 2010, was in the audience for the performance, which starred Billy Lyons.
Along with Oscar Wao, this year the theater is presenting 1967 autobiography by Piri Thomas, Down These Mean Streets, starring Jamil Mena.
For more on The American Place Theatre visit www.American Place Theatre.org.