Performing Arts

‘Big River’ summoned Antonio Amadeo into the world of theater

Antonio Amadeo, with Andy Quiroga, wrote, starred in and designed the set for the Naked Stage’s ‘A Man Put on a Play.’
Antonio Amadeo, with Andy Quiroga, wrote, starred in and designed the set for the Naked Stage’s ‘A Man Put on a Play.’

Carbonell Award-winning actor Antonio Amadeo has played some great roles on South Florida stages: the title character in The Elephant Man at Mosaic Theatre, a hounded author in The Pillowman at GableStage, a Czech student in Tom Stoppard’s Rock ’n’ Roll at Mosaic. He and his actress-wife, Katherine Amadeo, founded The Naked Stage with their friend John Manzelli, and the Amadeos are the force behind South Florida’s popular annual 24-Hour Theatre Project.

As Amadeo was in rehearsal for this week’s Island City Stage world premiere of Michael McKeever’s Daniel’s Husband, a play the actor calls “gut-wrenchingly beautiful,” he recalled his path into the world of theater.

“I went to Kenwood Elementary School, and my kindergarten teacher Miss Felcoski later became my fifth-grade teacher. She put me in a play, a simple American presidents thing, and it was wonderful, I loved it, it was great. The next year she did a play called Shakespeare and the Computer, and for the first time used fifth- and sixth-graders, so that I could be Romeo. My grandparents had tickets to the Broadway shows at the Jackie Gleason Theater on Miami Beach, and the first show they took me to was a tour of [the musical] Big River. When I saw it, I said, ‘This is what I have to do,’ and I went to the University of Miami,” Amadeo recalls.

“Later, [artistic director] David Arisco scheduled a production of Big River at Actors’ Playhouse. He only knew me as a tech person, and I hadn’t performed there, but I called him and said, ‘I have to be in that show.’ I was in the chorus, and it was one of the best theatrical experiences I’ve ever had. After that, I did a ton of plays at Actors’ ... My wife Katie and I met there when we did The Sound of Music. She was Liesel [von Trapp], and I was a Nazi.”

Christine Dolen

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