HAGERSTOWN, MD. >> Truman Capote, the well-known author of such classics as "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and the best-seller, "In Cold Blood," which made him famous, is the subject of a one-man play, "Tru," which will be performed for one night only July 23 at Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater and Children's Theater, 44 N. Potomac St.
Capote was a splendid mix of flamboyant, wistful and cantankerous, in love with celebrity and his "swans," as he called the then social elite of "the ladies who lunch" in Manhattan. Indeed he could be a character in one of his own stories.
Michael Anthony Nozzi will bring Capote to life with a point-on interpretation of the man, complete with distinctive high-pitched voice and characteristic gestures. Reviewer Shari Barrett called his performance, "nuanced and complete."
"In preparing for this role, I listened to a lot of interviews with Capote. He never uses the strong vocal cords in the back of his throat, producing a sort of whiny sound," said Nozzi, doing a spot-on rendition of the man. "I also watched his mannerisms, the way he played with his clothing, especially around the collar, and studied the way he walked, sat, and rolled his head back, all of which I incorporated into my development of his personality."
The play takes place after the first installment of Capote's latest book, "Answered Prayers," is published in Esquire magazine, to much uproar and disappointment, as he reveals the quirks, foibles, and secrets of his female friends -- to their chagrin. He is quickly and thoroughly ostracized by his high society and find himself alone just before Christmas in his New York apartment with only pills, cigarettes, vodka and chocolate truffles to console him.
"Tru" garnered Robert Morse, in the title role, a Tony Award in the original Broadway show in 1990. Morse is most noted for his work in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," which he also reprised in the movie of the same name. "When he heard that I was to do this play," Nozzi said, "he called me and said that he wanted to be part of the production." As a result, Morse has become the creative consultant.
The play runs an hour and 45 minutes, with Nozzi on stage alone for the entire time. "This show is a tour de force for any actor," he said. Twice during the performance, Capote has an emotional breakdown." But, having to be the constant presence on stage does not faze him. "I performed at the old Totem Pole Playhouse, up on the hill, and I remember Bill Putch telling me, 'You have no reason to be nervous doing a role as long as you know your line and your stage blocking.' That is advice I still remember today."
Born in Chambersburg, Nozzi attributes his entry into theater to his participation when he was 6 months old, in the re-enactment of the Burning of Chambersburg. "My mother carried me and I was the last baby to leave the stagecoach, so she told me. So, I was in the spotlight almost from birth." At 12, he started in community theater, apprenticing at the Totem Pole.
After graduating from Chambersburg Area Senior High School, he worked for a while at the former L'Aiglon dress factory, Shippensburg, to make enough money to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, New York. There, he is known not only as an actor but also as a director, choreographer, set designer and teacher. He returned to Chambersburg when his grandmother, mother, and father, in succession, became ill and died. Not long after, he decided to head for Los Angeles, where he now lives.
The play starts the new season at the playhouse.
"We try to provide a wide variety of entertainment," said Shawn Martin, one of the owners, "and Michael has had such success with this play and with his local ties to this area that we thought it would be a great opportunity to have him come here."
For Nozzi, this is also a chance to revisit old haunts, but most importantly to act in a role which he calls, "the hardest one I have ever performed. But I love the play, so I will do it anywhere."
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: One-may performance, "Tru"
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. July 23
WHERE: Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater and Children's Theater, 44 N. Potomac St., rear entrance, Hagerstown, Md.
COST: $39 for dinner and play (a limited number available for $19). Cash bar.