Screenwriter and playwright Steve Galluccio is best-known for his smash hit play Mambo Italiano and its feature film adaptation which have been seen by audiences around the world.
The most successful Italian playwright from Canada, the Montrealer returns to the stage with his new play At the Beginning of Time which opens February 21 at the Centaur Theatre Company in Old Montreal.
Dubbed Galluccio’s most personal play since Mambo Italiano – the longest-running play in Centaur history – At the Beginning of Time is an autobiographical story of a gay man in his late 50s who gathers with gay friends to reminisce about the past. They talk about everything from boyfriends to Sunday night dinners, backed by a soundtrack of Blondie, the B-52s and the Village People, with plenty of Galluccio’s trademark humour. The play is not just a love letter to Montreal, but also to Galluccio’s late husband, Yves Dionne, who died in August 2020 from Alzheimer’s at age 72.
The sterling ensemble cast – Richard Jutras, Stephen Lawson, Michael Miranda and Nadia Verrucci – directed by Canadian theatre legend Peter Hinton-Davis is also generating a lot of buzz.
I recently sat down with Steve (now 62) for a candid Q&A to preview At the Beginning of Time.
How autobiographical is this play?
100 percent! It’s literally me. Some anecdotes are made up but what the main character goes through is exactly what I went through at that point in my life. It is the most autobiographical play I have written since Mambo. All the characters are in their late 50s and early 60s, so the play is also about being an older gay man. It is very raw though I use my sense of humour to get through things.
What is it like to have Peter Hinton-Davis direct your play?
Centaur Artistic and Executive Director Eda Holmes thought we’d be a good fit and contacted with Peter. We met and hit it off, and Peter told me about his vision for the play. He said, “It’s very Chekhovian” and I said to him, ‘I’ve been called many things but never Chekhov!” Peter also loves At the Beginning of Time because it’s rare to read a play about gays of this age group.
What do you think Yves would think of this play?
He would love it because it’s an honest account of what happened. His Alzheimer’s was so aggressive, everything happened so quickly. I tried my best to reconcile everything that happened at lightning speed. And I couldn’t communicate with him anymore. He didn’t know who I was. He just didn’t know.
Was it scary?
It was the apocalypse. It was being thrown in complete darkness. Everything I had was torn away from me.
The Steve I know today is very different from the Steve I knew before Mambo.
It was a different world 40 years ago. I lived a gay life outside my parents’ home. My friends all knew I was gay. I had gay characters in my plays. My family obviously knew. But back then everybody was afraid of AIDS, and if you said publicly that you were gay, you were marginalized.
Now I meet a lot of young gays from around the world who have been positively impacted by Mambo Italiano. They tell me how much Mambo helped them come out. We have all lived through a lot since Mambo came out, the whole opening of the mainstream to gay culture.
You remarried in June 2021. You have found happiness with your husband Kevin Brady.
I met Kevin through Tinder because a friend of mine saw I was really depressed and said to me, “Why don’t you get on the app?” I soon discovered that dating was fun. I met new people, went out for dinner and drinks. When I started going out again, I’d go to the Gay Village and sit at a restaurant bar and sometimes have dinner by myself, maybe enjoy some bar talk. But now everyone was on their apps. One time this guy sitting next to me was on Grindr, so I looked at my Grindr and found him and he didn’t even respond!
How did you and Kevin fall in love?
We met on Tinder, went out for a drink and there was an immediate connection.
Did you feel guilty at first, like you were betraying Yves?
Absolutely. I absolutely felt guilty. I had survivor’s guilt for a very long time. Because when I met Kevin it was great. We started a relationship. And it breathed new life into me. At the same time, Yves was deteriorating daily, so by this point, he didn’t even recognize me anymore. But Yves always used to say to me, “I’m older and I will probably die before you, or I will get sick and I will have to live elsewhere. I want you to promise me that when that happens you go on with your life without me. I don’t want you to be sad. My time is over but yours is not.” Yves was always afraid he would be a burden. He hated to see me sad about anything. Knowing Yves wanted me to move on with my life helped tremendously during the whole ordeal.
In 2019 the musical adaptation of Mambo Italiano premiered at the legendary Westchester Broadway Theater which sadly did not survive the COVID pandemic. What was that experience like?
It was one of the highlights of my career. It was just magic. It was a crazy wonderful production with many actors who had been on Broadway.
Is Broadway still on the horizon?
The musical does have a future but with COVID the producers lost all their funding. I’m still in contact with the producer. As you know, Broadway is still suffering. There aren’t many Broadway shows that are doing well. Everything has changed.
You have written many hit plays and screenplays, but people will always remember you for Mambo.
And that’s fine. I think every artist has one defining work. I have Mambo. There’s been a lot of other successful work as well, but Mambo is the one that has resonated the most. It’s a privilege, a rarity and an honour.
INFOS | At the Beginning of Time runs at the Centaur Theatre Company in Old Montreal from February 21 to March 12. For tickets, visit centaurtheatre.com.
LIRE LA TRADUCTION DE CETTE ENTREVUE :
Un entretien avec Steve Galluccio (FUGUES)