By Rita Charleston
She thinks it all began when her best friend’s mother began taking her to see live theater. “I was absolutely mesmerized by the whole thing. I was fascinated by how the actors could transport you into a whole different world,” said Pierlisa Chiodo-Steo, now an actress herself who is currently appearing in Charles Busch’s comedy, “The Allergist’s Wife,” playing at the Stagecrafters Theater, 8130 Germantown Ave., on weekends through June 29.
So for this actress, raised in Chestnut Hill and still living here, it was onward and upward. She began appearing in school plays in grade school and later at her high school, Cardinal Dougherty. She knew she wanted to be an actress, so she entered Temple University to get her BA degree n Theater/Communications.
“I was totally into it at that point, for better or worse,” said Pierlisa, who described her age as “middle-aged.” But with all her determination, she said it was hard to find work. “It takes a lot of luck along with the talent. It’s almost like winning the lottery. But eventually, some luck did come my way.
“I began working some at Allens Lane when I heard about Stagecrafters and decided to audition for them. Well, it went well, and I got a role. That was back in 1995, and since then I’ve stayed with them. I feel as though they have so much to offer, including putting on great shows at affordable prices.”
And “The Allergist’s Wife” is no exception. It is the story of Marjorie Taub, an affluent Manhattan housewife who spends her days and evenings in artistic and intellectual pursuits but is plunged into a mid-life crisis that has brought her to the brink of a breakdown.
Feeling inadequate, full of self-doubt and beset by angst about her place in the world, she has come to the conclusion that she is barely a mediocre human being. Mix in her near-perfect husband, Ira, a retired physician, and her cantankerous mother obsessed with bodily functions, and Marjorie’s funk is nearly total — until suddenly upon the scene enters Lee Green.
“That’s my character,” said Steo. “She’s a free spirited woman of the world. When she enters Marjorie’s world, a lot of changes take place, and the comedy ensues.”
But Steo is nothing like Lee, she insists. “Lee is the kind of person who can pack a suitcase and head off to China in a minute. And that’s certainly nothing I would do, so in order to play her convincingly, I have to find something in her I could relate to. And that’s why we call it acting.”
Over the years, Steo, wife of jazz musician Frank Steo since 2000, has acted her way through many parts. At one point she lived in New York City and acted in numerous off-Broadway productions including “Salome” at Lincoln Center. Back home at Stagecrafters, aside from her many roles in numerous shows, she also co-directed “A Shot In The Dark” and has served on the company’s Board of Directors.
When Steo is not on stage, she works at a law firm because, she said, “No matter how much you love the theater, you have to earn a living. But I hope to continue in the theater as long as I can, realizing that when you reach a certain age, the roles are limited. I just have to go with the flow.”
For information call 215-247-8881. For reservations, call 215-247-9913 or online at www.thestagecrafters.org.