“I can take a peasant and turn him into a gentleman in two weeks – that’s how long it takes me to sew a suit for him.” The speaker is Nick Giannakopoulos, one of many characters that Angeliki Giannakopoulos brilliantly recreates in her one-woman show, “Nick The Greek.” Nick is her father and her play tells the story of this illegal Greek immigrant who grew up in a world where his ambitions were greater than what he could find in his own country.
The story unfolds over the course of 40 years. It begins in a small village, close to Kalamata, where he was born. Nick survived WWII, became a tailor by trade, got married and had three children. One day, he brings a suitcase home and tells his wife to pack it. He was leaving for America to create the life he always dreamed of since he was a little boy. He had heard that in America, dollars grow on trees.
Angeliki puts her 30 years experience of theater and storytelling into the most emotional, personal, humorous and heart-wrenching performance. Every item on stage has a personal meaning for her. Every suit she wears are suits her father made with his own hands 50 years ago. This is an immigration story that provides an interesting perspective of a young man chasing the “American Dream,” as so many millions of people have done before him and continue to do today. Now, more than ever, the dialogue surrounding this theme is ever expanding, which is why the story of “Nick The Greek” is one that needs to be told. It’s also a way for the children of immigrants to understand and appreciate the sacrifices their parents endured to give them a better life, and to raise the question: “Who do they want to become?”
Giannakopoulos’ career includes writer/actor/producer/filmmaker. In 1994 she established Artemis Productions and the Greek-American Theater Company of Los Angeles. Her award-winning documentary “My Child – Mothers of War,” introduced by Susan Sarandon, aired on PBS. It was then adapted into a stage show and premiered at the Hudson Theater in Los Angeles. Angeliki, of course, was co-founder of the L.A. Greek Film Festival.
Special kudos should go to “Nick the Greek’s” director Amy Chaffee, who should also have a credit as choreographer – the production moves along with such seamless beauty.
Giannakopoulos and Chaffee will be bringing the production to additional U.S. cities and abroad after the completion of its West Coast run.
“Nick the Greek” will play at Theater 68 on April 22 at 2 pm, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. I urge you to see this deeply moving, funny, and meaningful show. For tickets visit ItsMySeat.com.
Angeliki has this message: “I want to perform this piece to Greek Americans all over the country. So if there are any organizations that want to sponsor a performance call me!” To book the production for your location, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Odyssey is presented and hosted by George Spiliadis, curator of the Cava Spiliadis Collection. He is the son of Costas Spiliadis who is credited with elevating casual Greek cuisine to fine dining at his acclaimed Estiatorio Milos restaurants. “I created Cava Spiliadis Collection in 2007 with the goal of bringing the best wines from Greece to the U.S., and today we represent some of Greece’s finest and most internationally celebrated winemakers.”
This is my last regular column, which I have been writing for 37 years. It’s been a pleasure and an honor getting to know the Greek community and it continues the very dear connections my husband and I had living in Lindos for the first 30 years of our honeymoon. Kalo Pascha!
Email the author: Mavis Manus