A hot Long Island star with local friends
Robert Cuccioli, who grew up in the beautiful North Shore, Long Island village of Plandome, had a run in “Rothschild & Sons” earlier this year in London’s Park Theatre, as well as other stage, acting and directing gigs along the way. He was scheduled for a Frank Sinatra Tribute at Feinstein’s 54 Below in Manhattan the day after Friday night’s performance at Patchogue Theatre for the Performance Arts’ “Broadway Memories.”
His gorgeous, impassioned singing has earned him a Tony nomination for his role as scientist Dr. Jekyll and his perverse alter ego Mr. Hyde, as well as Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and FANY Awards for Outstanding Actor in a Musical. A versatile actor/singer, his credits also include the dual role as Norman Osborn/The Green Goblin (another alter ego character) in the rock musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” where, besides singing and emoting as an intense villain, he got to fly. His credits are amazingly hefty and include Shakespeare roles. His big break came starring as Lancelot in the national and Canadian tours of “Camelot,” to “And the World Goes ‘Round.” Cuccioli was The New York Times’ Critic Pick in “White Guy on the Bus” at 59E59 Theatres just last year.
Cuccioli spoke with the Long Island Advance by phone earlier this week.
Long Island Advance: You are one busy guy. I think you lead a good life to do it all.
Robert Cuccioli: You have to treat your body as an instrument and have to take care of it. My daily routine is that I work out daily and vocalize daily; you have to keep your voice tuned. You have to watch what you eat. It’s a discipline. And it’s been a learning curve. Your body changes and you have to adapt to keep up your form. You also have to be specific and aware when doing concerts; they’re different than doing a show. You don’t have your own dressing room to warm up many times.
LIA: You attended St. John’s University for a degree in finance and worked afterwards as a financial consultant for E.F. Hutton for three years, an interesting journey that somewhat helped you with your career I’m sure. What made you make the jump to performing?
RC: I always did theatre when I was younger and also played in rock bands. In my senior year at St. John’s I worked with the Chappell Players. I did a show and people said, ‘you’re good.’ After graduation I had a friend of mine who had a friend, a costume coordinator at the Light Opera of Manhattan, who got me an audition for a job in their chorus. So I worked on Wall Street during the day and went uptown in the evening and sang Gilbert and Sullivan at night. I got my equity card from that. I quit E.F. Hutton and moved on. No one has the same story in their journey. And there are a few musical performers who come from another career. Mark Jacobi [musical theater performer in many Broadway shows], for example, was going to go into law. The majority come out of the womb and go to conservatory for dramatic arts. But there are a few of us that had another career and there are advantages to both sides. There would have been advantages to learning about the history of musical theatre and plays, so I’ve had to play catch-up and learn on my own. But having a different career and training gave me a well-rounded spirit and avoided tunnel vision. It wasn’t always revolving around theatre.
LIA: Any shout-outs to a music or acting teacher?
RC: I was born in Hempstead, but my family moved to Pennsylvania for a short amount of time when my father was transferred, then he was transferred back and I spent the majority of my childhood growing up in Plandome. I would give my shout-out to a teacher at St. Mary’s High School in Manhasset, which I attended. A couple of friends and I interacted with him to start a theater club at St. John’s. His name is James Giattino, and he helped. His wife, Diane Giattino (Stage Door School of Dance), choreographed for us. We are still great friends and in touch. I just saw them a couple of weeks ago, when I directed a performance of Jekyll & Hyde in Boston and they came up.
LIA: What will you be singing for Patchogue’s audience?
RC: I’m singing, ‘This is the Moment,’ and songs from ‘Les Miserables,’ ‘The Impossible Dream,’ and also ‘Guido’s Song’ from ‘Nine.’
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