The Drawing Board Reading of Throgs Neck, a Play by E.A. Melino

Poster for Reading @ The Drawing Board on Jan. 25, 2021

Throgs Neck begins on Election Day 2016. Johnny, a wannabe tech entrepreneur and vehement anti-Trumpist, is deep in debt due to the failure of his first business. Christine, his estranged wife and high school sweetheart, threw him out for lying about losing all their money. At 31, he finds himself living back home with his domineering widowed father, John Sr., a rabid pro-Trumpist with connections to the local Mafia.

The old man can’t wait for Trump to take over and throw the immigrants out, but Johnny, his only son, is half Puerto Rican by his dark-skinned mother, Maria. Behind the closed doors of family life, racism complicated the love between father and son in ways neither understood. Since Maria’s passing two years before, their relationship has become as toxic as the nation’s politics.

Still, having his boy back home has worked out well for John Sr., who is possessive and always resented Johnny’s loyalty to Christine. Behind his son’s back, John Sr. has manipulated Christine into divorcing Johnny. But Johnny has been hatching a plan to make big money and win back Christine. A chip off the old block despite their political differences, Johnny’s scheme involves local racketeers. When he’s served divorce papers on Election Day, Johnny moves to fast track his plans. Like the election, it all comes to a head on Inauguration Day.

To register for free e-tickets, visit the reading’s Eventbrite page here.

The Cast

Joshua Santora as Johnny, the Son

The only son of an Italian-American father and Puerto Rican mother, Johnny identifies as white. His father raised him as an “Italian prince,” indulging him as a way to undermine Johnny’s independence as a man. Much as he loves his father, Johnny has been struggling all his life to get from under the old man’s thumb. Though close to his mother, who passed away two years before, Johnny does not speak Spanish. His father saw to that.

An actor and dancer, Joshua Santora is a member of the TC Squared Theatre Company. Most recently, he appeared in the Park Players (Union, NJ) production of “Seussical The Musical.”

Jill Durso as Christine, Johnny’s Estranged Wife

She and her father moved to Throgs Neck from the Midwest when she was 10, the year after her mother died. She and Johnny met in high school. For her, it was love at first sight: physical, passionate and intense. But when she discovered Johnny lied to her about the losing all their money when his business failed, she sent him packing to his father’s. Nothing could enrage her more than Johnny’s lying. But she never stopped loving and longing for him.

Jill Durso has appeared off-Broadway (“Einstein” by Jay Prasad) and in regional theatre. She starred in the television series “Deadly Sins” (Discovery ID/ Dick Clark Productions) and co-starred in series such as “Law & Order: SVU” (NBC) and “FBI: Most Wanted” (CBS). Jill also produces her own work, including an internationally distributed short film, “Here You Go.”

Edward James Hyland as John Sr., the Father

A second generation Italian American, John Sr. is a retired truck driver with connections to the local Mafia. Wily, irreverent and hot headed, he cannot bear playing second fiddle to anyone, especially for his son’s love. Though unapologetically racist, John married a Dominican woman (Johnny’s mother). But his love for his wife did nothing to temper his racism; he detested hearing her speak Spanish. Broken down by not broke, he lives on a combination of disability payments, union benefits and ill-gotten gains. He used his trucking job to run a lucrative black market business fencing swag goods to restaurants and hotels on his truck route.

Edward Hyland is most known for appearing in the 2015 feature film “Bridge of Spies” (directed by Steven Spielberg). His Broadway theatre credits include “Machinal,” “Arcadia,” “Man Who Had All the Luck,” “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” and others. Off-Broadway, he has appeared in “Julius Caesar,” “Troilus & Cressida” (Delacorte Theatre) and many more.

Jacqueline Sydney as Gladys, the Nosy Neighbor

A long-time friend of the family, Gladys watched Johnny grow up. Gladys’ Irish Catholic family moved to Throgs Neck when it was mostly beach bungalows by the Long Island Sound. As a teen during the late 60s, Gladys hung out with a long-haired crowd, smoked pot and protested against the Vietnam War. Like the fool in “King Lear,” she sees and says what no one else wants to see or hear, and she can’t be insulted.

Off-Broadway, Jackie Sydney has appeared in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City.” Her numerous New York and regional theatre credits include “Dear Harvey,” “The Kitchen Table,” “The Secret Garden” and many others. Her many film credits include the lead role in “Pamela,” for which she was nominated Best Female Actor at the Queens World Film Festival 2019, and “Eleanor,” which won Best Dramatic Feature at the 2018 Manhattan Film Festival. Her television credits include “The President Show” (Comedy Central), “Seven Seconds” (Netflix) and many others.

The Place

Throgs Neck Bridge (MTA / Patrick Cashin)

The play takes place in Throgs Neck, the Bronx beyond the subway. It lies between the last stop on the number 6 train, Pelham Bay Park, and the Throgs Neck Bridge, where the peregrine falcons nest. Since the mid-20th century, the area has been a predominantly Italian and Irish working class enclave.

The main set replicates rooms in one of the many attached houses that characterize the area. One room is John Sr.’s television room. Two objects dominate here: a flat screen television and an old, ugly easychair reminiscent of Archie Bunker’s chair in “All in the Family.”

In 2016, Throgs Neck voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump (“An Extremely Detailed Map of the 2016 Election,” New York Times, 7/25/2018).

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