More Than a Comedian

Returning to FST after his appearance in last year’s record-breaking Cabaret Unchained Melodies, Nick Anastasia brings his bright voice and comedic timing to That’s Amoré!, celebrating the music and life of Dean Martin.

We sat down with Nick to discuss the development process of That’s Amoré!, what he’s learned about “The King of Cool,” and his love of all things dramatic.

That’s Amoré! is now playing in FST’s Court Cabaret through February 2. For tickets and more information, click here.

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Nick Anastasia and Emily Dennis. Photo by Matthew Holler.

Creating a Cabaret like That’s Amoré! is a collaborative process. Can you describe what that process was like? How did you contribute?

The process of developing a Cabaret at FST is always really interesting because, unlike with a play or a musical, the script isn’t completely finished or set in stone on the first day of rehearsal. When we started rehearsing, we had a song list and an idea of the story that the show was telling. That’s Amoré! was special because we – the rest of the cast and I – were able to share our input and help shape the script.

I am usually the type of person that gives my input about specific lines, but for this show, I was really involved with testing out different jokes. I still test out a few jokes here or there, which I’ve really been enjoying. It’s nerve wracking at times, because the fear of not getting a laugh is always there, but when I do get one, it is such a  feeling of accomplishment.

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Nick Anastasia. Photo by Matthew Holler.

What did you know about Dean Martin before the show, and what were you surprised to learn?

To be completely honest, I didn’t really know much about Dean Martin before we started rehearsals for That’s Amoré!. I knew that he was in the Rat Pack, and I knew the hits – “That’s Amoré,” “Mambo Italiano,” – stuff like that. I knew about his partnership with Jerry Lewis, just from growing up and being told that I look like Jerry Lewis. It’s funny that, in a way, things have come full circle.

What was most surprising to me was how tragic the end of his life was. I appreciated learning that, towards the end of his life, he wanted to slow down and spend time with his family.

You and the rest of the cast have really great chemistry on the stage, but this is the first time you’ve all worked together. Do you all spend time together off stage as well?

During rehearsals, we spent every breathing moment together. Nygel, Mike, and I all live together, and Emily is our neighbor, so we still hang out a lot. We have gotten really close on and off stage, which has helped us be more relaxed on stage. It has also helped me be more comfortable bantering and improvising with them all, which I am loving.

What is your favorite song to perform in That’s Amoré! and why?

The medley in Act II where Mike and I sing about love and relationships is by far my favorite. I love the songs in that part – like “Tender Trap” and “Taking a Chance on Love.” I am always reminded of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra singing them, which draws me to the songs even more.

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Nygel Robinson, Mike Backes, and Nick Anastasia. Photo by Matthew Holler.

I’ve also really been connecting with the personalities featured in That’s Amoré!. When Mike and I are singing that medley, it’s a great moment, because it’s kind of a “manly duet” that has us cutting each other off before we get to the big, well-known parts of the songs. It was inspired by something that Dean and Frank did on TV back in the day, so it was cool to pull from that.

What is something that audiences would be surprised to know about you?

After being in the other shows I’ve been in at FST – Laughing Matters vol. 5: Lock the Gates!,  Burt & Me, Unchained Melodies – I think people would be surprised to learn that there is a lot more to me than comedy. Most of the shows I’ve done at FST are comedic in nature, but there’s a different part of me that I’d really like for the FST audiences to see at some point. Don’t get me wrong, I love making people laugh. I think laughter is truly the best medicine, but I do love more serious, dramatic work as well.

That’s Amoré! is now playing in FST’s Court Cabaret through February 2. For tickets and more information, click here.