Some of the 2013 Drama Desk nominees for "Unique Theatrical Experience."
Some of the 2013 Drama Desk nominees for "Unique Theatrical Experience."
(© David Gordon)
Unique Theatrical Experience. It's a category that doesn't exist in any awards show except the Drama Desks. But just what makes a theatrical experience unique? We turned to this year's nominees to find out.

In the spirit of the category, we gathered as many of them as we could — Fazzino Ride CEO Richard Humphrey, That Play: A Solo Macbeth 's Tom Gualtieri and Heather Hill, Jon Stancato of The Man Who Laughs, and Bello Nock of The New Victory Theater's Bello Mania (who was Skyped in from Canada) — to take a uniquely theatrical photo on the Fazzino Ride bus. We then quizzed them as to why this unique category is a real keeper.

Jon Stancato, Heather Hill, Bello Nock (via Skype), Tom Gualtieri, and Richard Humphrey on The Fazzino Ride
Jon Stancato, Heather Hill, Bello Nock (via Skype), Tom Gualtieri, and Richard Humphrey on The Fazzino Ride
(© David Gordon)

Richard Humphrey
Richard Humphrey
(© David Gordon)
Richard Humphrey — The Fazzino Ride

How would you describe your show in one word?

I would say that the ride is kinetic. I would say the ride is interactive. I would say the ride is exhilarating.

What makes your theatrical experience unique?

Well, you can't put the Belasco Theatre on wheels. We always say the street's the stage and you have front-row seats. You get to see New York unfold during this adventure.

What does it mean to you that the Drama Desks have a category in which your show can be nominated?

First of all, we're completely awestruck and honored to be considered for a Drama Desk Award. Of course we have also spent the year working to move more into the theatrical community with our 1.5-million-dollar traveling theaters. We're just excited that the nominating committee really responded to the fabulous work of Charles Fazzino's thirty years of artwork as the vocabulary for us to build our unique theatrical experience.

Does The Ride have anything he'd like to add?

I'll let the ride speak for himself. He has a few choice expressions.

The Ride:

Hey ladies, lookin' good.


Heather Hill and Tom Gualtieri
Heather Hill and Tom Gualtieri
(© David Gordon)
Tom Gualtieri and Heather Hill — That Play: A Solo Macbeth

How would you describe your show in one word?

Tom Gualtieri:

Wicked. Playful. Mischievous. Those are the three.

What makes your theatrical experience unique?

Heather Hill:

I think the theatrical ways we wake up a very familiar story. I mean, the audience becomes — I mean — they're really part of the show at one point.

Tom Gualtieri:

Because ultimately, the story is about us. About why we are Lady and Mr. Macbeth. And there's no actual audience participation. I always say that. We don't force them into the show. They contribute.

What does it mean to you that the Drama Desks have a category in which your show can be nominated?

Tom Gualtieri:

The Solo Performance recognizes the performer, I think. And the Unique Theatrical Experience recognizes the whole thing. This show would not exist without Heather nor me; the two of us together is what makes the show happen. It's a show that's beyond my performance of the story.

So I think what it means to us is that we're both recognized for the piece.

Heather Hill:

And the category is a way to celebrate really original concepts. It's wonderful.

It's fascinating to me that also nominated in this category are Cirque du Soleil and The Man Who Laughs, which is really unique but still a theater piece. So you have this wide range of things in this category, which says to me that the Drama Desks are doing their work.


Jon Stancato
Jon Stancato
(© David Gordon)
Jon Stancato — The Man Who Laughs

How would you describe your show in one word?

Silent. It's a 1920s-style live film for the stage.

What makes your theatrical experience unique?

I think the uniqueness is derived from the fact that we're telling an entire narrative without any spoken text whatsoever. I think that lets them give themselves permission to go to emotional places they might not if it were a traditional piece.

And there's also the fact that the entire stage action is behind a scrim, so there is this distance, and because it's still in a 65-seat house, there is this intimacy at the same time.

What does it mean to you that the Drama Desks have a category in which your show can be nominated?

It's just incredible that a show of the size that ours was and the budget that ours was can be recognized in the same awards ceremony with the best of Broadway and off-Broadway. It has been incredible for us to find a way to integrate the work that we do in our little corner of New York into the larger theater community.


Bello Nock
Bello Nock
(© David Gordon)
Bello Nock — Bello Mania

How would you describe your show in one word?

Wow. I don't know if I could describe it in one word. If I had to describe it in one word, it would be Bello Mania.

What makes your theatrical experience unique?

Well, one: I actually climbed a 40-foot-tall flagpole over the audience in the house. We took out a couple of seats, and I climbed to the top and did handstands and tricks and all sorts of things. Not on stage, but in the house. If that wasn't unique enough, my wife wrote, directed, and produced the show. I got to perform onstage with my daughter, my adopted son, and backstage, my oldest daughter was the stage manager. Even the family dog was in the show. So it really was a unique experience being a family together onstage.

What does it mean to you that the Drama Desks have a category in which your show can be nominated?

It means so much. You know, the long and the short of it is that in the world that we live in today, there are so many distractions, there are so many options, there are so many entertainment options — on TV, on Broadway, live events, theme parks, everything, that to be recognized at all these days is an honor. And I'm a seventh-generation circus performer and entertainer from both sides of my family and to be nominated for an award in a new genre really means a lot to me. It's really just basically beyond words. That's really what it means.