Napoli Brooklyn


Ted Sod: Where and when were you born? What made you decide to become an actress? Where are you getting your training? Do you have any teachers who you feel have had a profound influence on you?

Jordyn DiNatale: I was born and raised in New Haven, CT. That is why I was so thrilled to do the first run of Napoli, Brooklyn at Long Wharf Theatre, a theatre I grew up seeing shows at. I made the decision to be an actor professionally when I was about twelve years old, but I fell into it earlier than that. When I was seven, my older brother was auditioning for Carousel at Act 2 Theatre which is also in New Haven. I asked my parents if I could audition too and they were shocked because I was a very shy kid. I sang the only song I knew, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and the next thing I knew I was in the chorus. I performed in a few more plays at Act 2 over the next three years. Acting in that old, haunted theatre is one of my favorite memories. I've collected many ghost stories from there! When I was twelve, I told my parents that I wanted acting to be my career. From that moment on, they never stopped helping me make that a reality. I received some of my training from Educational Center for The Arts (ECA) in New Haven. Most of my training is from different acting teachers in NYC. The teacher who has had the most influence on me is Anthony Abeson. He always helps actors find the humanity in their characters and reminds us how important the actor's role is. He reminds us how the writer is saying something to the world with their words and is entrusting us, the actors, to deliver that message. Anthony is just an amazing person and fantastic coach and his classes have really helped me feel comfortable tackling challenging work. My peers in his classes are the most loving and supportive people and it makes the whole learning environment so special.

TS: Why did you choose to play the role of Francesca in Meghan Kennedy’s Napoli, Brooklyn? What do you think the play is about?

JD: I really fell in love with Meghan's script. Seeing a story that features strong female characters is definitely inspiring. And I like that it centers around a close Italian-American family because growing up in an Italian family myself, I can relate to a lot of the family dynamics. The emphasis on cooking and the way that food impacts the Muscolino family's daily life is a quality that is also close to my heart. This play is about so many things for so many people. That is what I think is so special about it, it has the ability to touch everyone in all different ways. The struggles of being an immigrant, the clash of old world and new world values, finding who you want to be while everyone around you is telling you who you have to be, having dreams but not knowing what to do with them. After reading the play through for the first time, it reminded me of the poem "Harlem" by Langston Hughes in which he asks, "What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore—And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over—like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?" I feel like all of the characters in this play are at their breaking point and they all explode in their own ways.

TS: How is this character relevant to you? Will you share some of your thoughts about who your character is with us? What do you find most challenging/exciting about this role?

JD: Francesca is bold and fearless. She questions everything she's been taught. She knows what she wants and she tries her best to make it happen. I can relate to Francesca in this way. It sounds silly, but when I was younger I loved learning new words. Whenever I learned a new word, I would try to use it in as many sentences as I could (annoyingly so!). I remember when I learned the word persevere. I loved it! Whenever I finished something difficult I would proudly tell my parents that I persevered through it. Perseverance became a part of my identity, as it is very much a part of Francesca's. Playing Francesca is exciting and challenging because I am portraying a character based on a real person, Meghan's mom. There is a huge responsibility in that. Also, I am often cast as a meek character who is trying to find herself. It is exciting to play a character who knows so definitively and unapologetically who she is and instead of trying to find herself, she is trying to find where she belongs.

Erik Lochtefeld, Michael Rispoli, Alyssa Bresnahan, Jordyn DiNatale, Elise Kibler and Lilly Kay rehearsing for NAPOLI, BROOKLYN. Photo by Jenny Anderson.

TS: At this point in your process, how do you understand Francesca’s relationship to her sisters?

JD: Francesca has a tug-of-war relationship with her whole family. She loves her sisters, but she doesn't think they see her for who she really is. And that is really all she wants. I think she is closest to her sister Vita and confides in her the most. Vita likes philosophy and questions things too, so I think Fran has learned a lot from her and thinks Vita is the smartest person she knows (besides herself!). Fran and her eldest sister, Tina, have less in common, but I think Fran really admires Tina's physical strength. Fran knows that Tina will always be there for her and ready to protect her, which makes Tina a really comforting presence in Fran's life.

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2016-2017 Season, Napoli Brooklyn

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Dear Theatregoer,

If you had told me ten years ago that Roundabout would be at the forefront of producing new American plays, I never would have believed you. I started our Roundabout Underground program back in 2007 because I saw a need to support playwrights early on, giving them a space to launch their careers. What I didn’t realize at the time was how incredible it would be to watch these young artists blossom into some of the most outstanding writers working in the theatre today.

Last season, we had the remarkable experience of taking on The Humans, our third collaboration with Stephen Karam, whose debut play Speech & Debate opened the Underground. Not only was The Humans met with an incredible response in our own Laura Pels Theatre, but it then transferred to Broadway, becoming a Pulitzer Prize finalist and winning the Tony Award® for Best Play. I can’t tell you how thrilling it has been to witness the impact Stephen is having on the American theatre after debuting at Roundabout.

The company of THE HUMANS

The company of THE HUMANS

And Stephen isn’t alone in his success. Joshua Harmon, who you first met here with Bad Jews, will make his Broadway debut this spring with the transfer of Significant Other, another play first seen at the Pels.

I’m so proud that, in supporting young voices that we believe in, Roundabout is able to bring you such incredible new work. In 2017, we will continue this commitment with two more plays. In the winter, you can see Steven Levenson’s bold family drama If I Forget. Steven is currently making his Broadway debut as a writer of the acclaimed new musical Dear Evan Hansen. In the spring, join us for the world premiere of Napoli, Brooklyn, Meghan Kennedy’s moving and vibrant tale of an Italian family in 1960s New York.

Like Stephen and Josh before them, both Meghan and Steve made their debuts with Roundabout Underground, and I am thrilled to continue showcasing their work. Don’t miss out on seeing the next great plays to hit New York before anyone else.


Todd Haimes

Artistic Director/CEO

Related Categories:
2016-2017 Season, Bad Jews, If I Forget, Napoli Brooklyn, The Humans

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New Plays at Roundabout

Posted on: December 17th, 2015 by Todd Haimes


I am thrilled to share several exciting updates for the coming season, all of them related to new plays. First, I’m proud to announce that the Roundabout Underground Program, which has brought us the exceptional work of Stephen Karam and Joshua Harmon, among many others, will be expanding its programming. Starting next Fall, we will now produce two new works in the Underground each season. The expansion of this vital program (not to mention its phenomenal success thus far) is a huge step forward for Roundabout’s New Play Initiative and a testament to the hard work and impeccable taste of Roundabout Underground producers Robyn Goodman, Jill Rafson, and Josh Fiedler, as well as the rest of the Literary team. I know I speak for Robyn, Jill, and Josh when I say that I couldn’t be more excited to introduce two early-career playwrights to New York audiences each season.

I am also happy to share the play that has been chosen for the first slot in the Underground’s newly expanded season. Jenny Rachel Weiner’s Kingdom Come will premiere in the Underground in Fall 2016. Jenny’s wonderful play appeared in May’s Underground Reading Series, and I’m very excited to bring her work back to the Black Box Theatre in a fully realized production.

We also have two incredibly exciting new plays headed to the Laura Pels Theatre next season, both of them world premieres by Underground alums. Steven Levenson’s If I Forget will be coming to the Pels next winter, and Meghan Kennedy’s Roundabout-commissioned Napoli, Brooklyn, will be at the Pels in spring 2017. You know Steven from two previous plays at Roundabout: 2008’s The Language of Trees and 2013’s The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin. And you will remember Meghan from her 2014 Underground play, Too Much, Too Much, Too Many.

I am honored to welcome all three of these writers to our 2016-2017 Season, and I’m especially thankful to have Steven and Meghan, two invaluable members of the Roundabout family of artists, returning to our theatre.

More details on casts and creative teams will be announced in the near future. I encourage you to join our Email Club for the latest news.

Related Categories:
2016-2017 Season, From Todd Haimes, If I Forget, Kingdom Come, Napoli Brooklyn

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