Written by Gemma Cocomello on 22.09.15

Theatre season is in full swing here in Montreal. With many plays hitting stages all over the island, you’ll definitely want to add Don’t Blame It On The Stork to your list of can’t miss shows. Directed by Antonio Diverdis and written by Tony Calabretta, the play is about a pregnant woman turning to her Italian family and loved ones after her husband leaves her. Despite the seemingly melancholy storyline, Don’t Blame it On The Stork is in fact a comedy, proving that a little (or a lot) of humour can make light of any situation. The play stars Nadia Verruce, Guido Cocomello, Eleanor Noble, Shawn Campbell, Dino Tavarone, Veronica Melis, and last but not least: Tony Calabretta. A proud Montrealer, Calabretta has been in the entertainment business for over 20 years and has made appearances on the stage and screen. We caught up with Tony Calabretta to discuss the play, future projects, and all things beautiful about Montreal.

Congrats on the new play Don’t Blame It On The Stork. How have things been going so far?

So far things have been going very well. Ticket sales have been going better than expected. The cast has been fantastic and we’ve been very fortunate. When we started casting about 7 or 8 months ago with our casting director, we insisted on hand picking the best people for this project. We’re so thrilled to get our first choices that we wanted for all the roles. We’re very happy about that!

Tony Calabretta Montreal

When did you know you wanted to work in the entertainment business?

It’s very funny that I can actually pinpoint it. I’ve always had a passion for the arts, whether it was singing, writing, or acting. I remember when I was 9 or 10 years old, I was watching the movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame on a Saturday afternoon. It moved me so much that I said “I want to do this for a living.” I wrote my own 5- or 6-page script based on that. That’s when I knew I wanted to be an actor.

You’re a successful writer, producer, and actor. Is there anything you haven’t done that you’d wish to try?

Juggling! I love all those illusionists and all that magic stuff. I’m still like a kid when I watch them and I wish that I had a talent for something like that.

Do you have a preference between acting, writing, and producing?

I don’t really have a preference, but I’ll tell you something: I get satisfaction from the writing because of the peacefulness it gives me. When you write, you’re by yourself and I can do it at any time of day without having to listen or talk to anybody. I love acting and seeing a story come to life and being able to portray something different. I love the producing because I enjoy the wheeling and dealing! I like making things happen and getting the deal done. This right here was an achievement, getting the LDV Center. This is the first time they’ve something of this magnitude. For us to be able to produce in here and have them take a chance is a huge score for us.

Dont blame it on the stork montreal leonardo da vinci centre

Don’t Blame It On the Stork is about some sad but hilarious events that occur in the intertwining lives of Italian families. What inspired this story?

It’s not based on any kind of reality, at least the main premise is not. There may be some things that myself or people around me have lived in our lives. It was mainly an idea. I like to take ordinary people and put them in extraordinary situations and see how they’re going to react.

What do you love most about living in Montreal? Does the city influence your work in any way?

Best thing about Montreal is the beautiful women! Along with that I love the food, the joie de vivre and the community feeling in all of the different neighborhoods. I can’t find a better place that I’d like to live in. The influence of Montreal in my writing is inherent. Italians in Montreal are very different from Italians in Toronto, New York, or anywhere else for that matter. They’re very specific and I feel that growing up as an Italian in Montreal, I was able to gain a lot of influence from that and it helped me with my writing as well.

tony and antonio 1

What are some of your favourite things to do around Montreal during your downtime?

Besides checking out the women, eating, and drinking…that’s pretty much it!

Who are you some of your idols and inspirations?

I grew up in the era of the sitcoms and that was probably the biggest influence for me.

As an actor, it’s all the greats: the Deniros, the Pacinos, the Hoffmans. I can only wish that I could do what they do at their level. As a writer I’m very happy to know someone like Vittorio Rossi. He’s a good friend of mine and an inspiration in that way. He’s a great writer and I admire the work he has done in the theatre industry.

If you had to pick your dream role, either on the screen or stage, what would it be?

It would have to be something that hasn’t been done yet so that I can create the character and I could be the one that would be associated with him. I can say that I’d love to play Michael Corleone from The Godfather or Randle McMurphy from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but these roles have already been portrayed. I would love to have characters of that magnitude that I can create for myself.

Don't Blame it on the Stork-Guido Cocomello, Tony Calabretta, Veronica Melis Montreal

You recently became a grandfather for the first time. How has life as a nonno been so far?

It’s been amazing! Holding my little grandson just puts everything into a different perspective. The only way someone can understand what that does to you is to have that experience for themselves.

What are you working on now?

A couple of things. I’m working on a television series called Uptown Sideways that Antonio Diverdis has created. I’m writing on the show. It’s loosely based on my own life. It’ll be like a Curb Your Enthusiasm type of show. We plan on shooting that shortly after the play ends here in Montreal. We’re also working on a screenplay of Damn Those Wedding Bells, an adaptation of the hugely successful play that I wrote. Hopefully next year, if Don’t Blame It On the Stork does well, we’d like to be back here at the LDV Center and become regulars.

Don’t Blame It On The Stork will be running at the Leonardo Da Vinci Center from September 15 to October 11. Be sure to get your tickets to what’s sure to be the soaring hit of the season. Click here to learn more about the multi-talented Tony Calabretta.

Photos courtesy of Tony Calabretta, Gino Calabretta, and Don’t Blame it on the Stork.

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