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Understudies, Workshops, and Swear Jars

A graphic of Tony Nappo edited to appear as multiple people sitting in a circle as a spoof of Alcoholics Anonymous. At the top and bottom of the image is text that reads
/By / May 4, 2016

Nappoholics Anonymous is a weekly column featuring twelve random thoughts by actor Tony Nappo. Some are funny, some are poignant, some bother him, and some make him weep from sadness while others make him weep for joy. Here are his thoughts: unfiltered, uncensored, and only occasionally unsafe for work.

1. The definition of “workshopping a play” is when a bunch of people who have never written a play sit around in a room telling the writer all the things that they are doing wrong.

2. The lobby shot from when I played the Cowardly Lion in the Woodbridge Players adaptation of The Wizard of Oz.


3. April 25, 2016:

Me: I didn’t do the show last night. I was sick.

Mom: Did your understudy go on?

Me: I don’t have an understudy. The director went on with the script in his hand.

Mom: You see? You spent all those years learning how to act when you could have just gone out and read the goddamned thing.

4. There are no stupid questions, but remember there are BILLIONS of stupid fucking people around who are really anxious to answer them.

5. The time I went out as Layne Coleman for Halloween.


6. I hate opening nights. First off, most shows are reviewed on the opening and they are generally the worst show of the run if only because most shows get successively better as the run goes on and the show settles. I also hate the energy and the noise and the build up. It’s all so fucking distracting. I mostly try to pretend it isn’t happening. I don’t dress up. I don’t write cards. I barely even hang out afterwards. I mean, it isn’t a one-off. It’s not the fucking Super Bowl. I have to come back and do the exact same show again tomorrow night without the marching band and the fireworks and the cheerleaders. All the things that have nothing to do with the show. In fact, the show sometimes feels like the least important element of the evening on an opening.  I understand why they’re necessary but if I could I would avoid them altogether.

7. When she was eight, my daughter started a swearing jar for me. She’s now eleven and has three million dollars.

8. Having an intermission in the middle of a bad show makes as much sense as wiping your ass when you’re only halfway through taking a shit.

9. Years ago, we were moving dirt or laying patio stones or some fucking thing and Carlo Rota and I were discussing an actor we both knew and how he never seemed to listen to anything that we were saying in conversation with him. Carlo said, “People who aren’t InterestED are rarely InterestING.” That statement contains a very clear and simple brilliance.


10. Watching Dexter reruns—Jimmy Smits is so bad on that show, I don’t even believe he’s Spanish.

11. The audience response to The Summoned has been absolutely incredible. I consider myself ridiculously fortunate to be following up Mustard with another great theatre experience.  Especially because it is fucking killing me financially to do six straight months of theatre. In any event, I thought both plays might be a bit too “out there” for them to appeal to a wide audience. I was dead wrong. Maybe audiences are way past “out there” now. Maybe it’s all fair fucking game.

12. I have fallen asleep onstage only once so far during this show—I will probably not break my A God in Need of Help record of falling asleep every single performance.


Tony Nappo

Tony Nappo

Tony is Italian, he’s from Scarborough, he’s an actor, he’s a father, he’s a really good house painter, and he doesn’t believe that most things matter, ultimately, at all.



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