Stage performer, Celeste Mancinelli has an extremely funny and deeply moving story to tell.
After successful regional performances, actor/singer Celeste Mancinelli now brings her compelling mix of humor and poignancy Off-Broadway. This special one-night performance of “Crying on the Camino” willl be presented at the newly renovated Theater 555. This NYC debut performance will benefit the American Pilgrims on the Camino, a non-profit association for people interested in the Camino de Santiago,a network of ancient pilgrimage routes leading to Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain.
Special Benefit Performance: Thursday, October 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Theatre 555, 555 West 42nd Street between Tenth and Eleventh avenues, NYC.
Celeste’s show recounts her 200-mile walk on the Portuguese Route to Santiago de Compostela. Her desire to share this experience brought her to the legendary teacher/director Wynn Handman, who helped her develop the show at his NYC studio.
Now Celeste embarks on a new “Camino,” bringing this true account of her walk to the stage. “This piece is about minimalism and simplicity, self-reflection and honesty,” says Mancinelli, a veteran stage actress. “In sharing this piece my goal is to inspire others to take their own journey – to fully live their own Caminos”
Celeste Mancinelli has been performing professionally since the early 80’s. Her NYC credits include the hit show “Nunsense” at the Douglas Fairbanks Theater, Cynthia Heimel’s long-running play “A Girl’s Guide to Chaos” at the American Place Theater (originating the character of Lurene) and Larry Gelbart‘s “1-2-3-4-5” at the Manhattan Theater Club. She has appeared as Mama in “My Big Fat Gay Italian Wedding” and its sequel (Funeral) at the St Luke’s Theatre. Celeste has worked in numerous Off-Broadway, cabaret, stock, regional and national touring productions throughout the United States. Her most recent appearance was as Edith Frank in “The Diary of Anne Frank” at the Greenbrier Valley Theatre in West Virginia. Celeste has proudly enjoyed a second career as an ASHA certified Speech/Language Pathologist and earned the NJSHA Distinguished Clinical Achievement Award. In that capacity, she developed a unique program at Spectra Academy in Montclair, New Jersey. This program targeted children/adolescents with Asperger’s/Autism/ADHD assisting them with the development of comedy scenes and scripts resulting in two full-scale stage and four film performances, all conceived by her students. This rewarding opportunity allowed her to mesh her two professional careers at the same time for the first time. During the COVID outbreak Celeste began writing/developing and performing her original, one-woman show, “Crying on the Camino” based on her 200 mile hike through Spain.
Celeste is thrilled to share this experience with all of you.
Ai sat with Ms. Mancinelli, who shared some deep thoughts with us.
Tell us about yourself as an artist. –
I am a born performer. I’ve always enjoyed acting, singing and trying to make people laugh. But once I started studying theater in college my interest in acting and performance deepened. (Thank you, Rutgers University Theater program!) I realized that I was fascinated by the simple act of using all of my training to tell a story. Of course, the stories I was telling were written by other people. I never really thought about using theater to tell a story of my own.
What made you decide to take the Camino journey?
I had two wonderful friends, sisters, who had walked various paths of the Camino over the years and who were scheduled to walk it again. I asked them if I could go along. They became my guardian angels. I had just retired from my second career as a Speech Pathologist, so I was at a turning point in my life. I believe I was summoned to the Camino as an unknown. I chose to do something hard to prepare for the hard ahead of me – walking for 200 miles in a foreign land versus walking back to a theatre career in NYC. Both choices seemed beyond reach but here I am.
What made you decide to turn it into a play?
I had a mentor in my life, the great acting teacher Wynn Handman, with whom I had been studying for many years. Through him I began to explore not just acting in theater but creating it. Still, I had never seriously considered writing an entire evening of theater myself.
But almost as soon as we began our walk, I started recording brief updates on my cellphone about my daily struggles. The sheer improbability of the experience, and the developing beauty of our walk along the path, were unforgettable; but without a written record, details of the unforgettable can still be forgotten. I wanted to remember as much as I could. And I wanted to remember it as it really happened, as the authentic experience it was. I didn’t want to remember platitudes. I wanted to remember what really happened to me. I knew I wanted to share this story with others.
What made you decide to be a Speech Pathologist?
I had a degree in Theater Arts but my parents insisted that I had to get a degree in something practical too. I received a Masters in Communicative Disorders, and I chose well. Most of my work was with children who are on what is now called the Autism Spectrum, and I loved it. It became a second passion of mine. And it connected with acting too. To help improve communication skills you have to analyze and teach the underlying emotional content of a message. Just like acting! As I taught I learned and as I learned I taught better.
Do you look at this as some form of a “comeback” to the stage?
Not at all. I never left acting. Theater is in my soul. It’s something I was meant to do.
What’s next? Auditions and doing my work just like all of my fellow actors.