As a writer, a journalist and a mother, my motto is….don’t wait for the interview. Don’t wait for people to choose you. Make it happen! Anthony Caporale, producer and writer of the off-Broadway hit series, “The Imbible, A Spirited History of Drinking” has done just that. “Un-Block The Music” had the pleasure of seeing “A Spirited History of Drinking,” at New World Stages, and best of all I had the great fortune to talk to Anthony. #ThirstyTheater
What “Un-Block The Music” loved most about the show, is that there is nothing else like it. Yes, drinks are sold at theaters, but the drinking here is part of the show, and you sit in a bar setting. Drinks are served while the bartender tells the story of how alcohol came to be. A history lesson was never like this. There is a cast of very talented entertainers who sing and dance their way through history starting with pre-historic times. Some of the song tunes are recognizable, some have new lyrics. All are sung a capella by some pretty fantastic entertainers. (Of course, as you know, I have a particular love for Circle In The Square Theater School and it has become my mission to search out alumni. In this case, one of the actors, Matthew Boyd is part of the cast.)
Enough babbling on my part, here’s Anthony’s story.
Born in Long Island, Anthony has participated in theater since he was 8 years old. “It was always my first love, but I had an interest in the sciences as well. I always straddled the line between the arts and the sciences,” Anthony said. His college degree in Mechanical Engineering is from Duke University in North Carolina.
“Graduating college, I always tried to keep one hand in the theater world. I was a little bit reticent to become an engineer fulltime, so I took a part time job as a server. I ended up getting behind the bar quite quickly, and, it felt exactly like being behind the stage. I tell people that bartending is a Broadway play performed by a psychologist. It’s a role you get to perform every night and you only have to audition for once!”
After about seven years, Anthony ended up opening a restaurant and doing consulting and beverage media work while running a theater company in North Carolina. He was running the company at the same time he was producing the “Art of The Drink” videos. (https://www.artofthedrink.com/). This was the first video series about cocktails and bartending on YouTube in 2005, he explains. “We launched about 5 months after YouTube was opened up to the public. That opened the door to a lot of beverage/alcohol companies. I guess now, they would call it, Influencer work that I was doing.” At that time, they called in organic marketing. That marketing lead to lecturing within the bartending world and then lead him to teaching at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. “I had all of this material, I had compiled from about 10 years of lectures, videos and recipe work. It was all geared toward keeping bartenders engaged while you were educating them about the brand. It was all very theatrical.”
Anthony eventually started a theater company in New York City. His co producer, Nicole DiMattei, thought it would be fun to enter a couple of original works in the New York City Fringe Festival. “We ended up submitting two full length plays, hoping one would get in, thinking neither would, and they both got in! We spent a frantic summer producing two full length productions for the 2014 Fringe Festival with an amazing bunch of volunteers.”
“The Imbible” sold out every Fringe show and the New York Times put it on the front page of its Arts section. Anthony and Nicole ended up opening the show on their own at The Soho Playhouse, which ironically used to be a Speakeasy, Anthony says. Eventually, the show moved to New World Stages where, in July, it passed its 1000th performance. (Fun fact. They have a connecting door to “The Jersey Boys”. If you have never been to New World Stages, check it out. They have several shows there. It’s in the middle of NYC’s theater district, but the theaters are smaller and the prices are most often cheaper than Broadway theater prices.)
Back to “The Imbible”. It never gets old because it is a series of shows. “A Spirited History of Drinking “and “Day Drinking” are open runs. “We needed a matinee slot, so we wrote a show about brunch. It’ more traditional that ‘Spirited’ and it has original music,” Anthony explained. They also have “Rum and Pirates,” the story of rum told by singing pirates and during the holidays, “It’s Christmas Carol Cocktails.”
While Anthony says, he and his team are looking to use theater as an educational platform, please don’t think of it as school…This is fun!!! Where else can you go to get beer, whiskey and gin in a classroom while watching a show (and those cocktails, BTW are part of the ticket price).
“Un-Block The Music” plans to see more “Imbible” shows. Check back here for more info about what Anthony and his fabulous team are doing. Next up, “Day Drinking”!