by Rita Charleston
According to one of its stars, Eleni Delopoulos, “Cafe Puttanesca” is a “cross between a cabaret and a musical.” With music and lyrics by Michael Ogborn and book by Terrence J. Nolan and Ogborn, the show revolves around three “ladies of the evening.” Directed by Dann Dunn, “Cafe Puttanesca” has been extended through June 16 at Ambler’s Act II Playhouse.
In the show, Delopoulos plays Maquisa, a French madam who runs a house of ill repute.
“We are three prostitutes living and working in post-war Amsterdam,” Delopoulos said. “We sing and tell jokes and thoroughly enjoy ourselves as much as we hope our audience does.”
Delopoulos first began enjoying the stage when she was just 6 years old. Born and raised in New Jersey and showing potential, the preteen was enrolled in a music theater class by her mother. “And I loved it,” Delopoulos said. “I got the bug, fell in love with every aspect of performing and never wanted to do anything else as a career.”
Moving on to high school, a performing arts magnet high school in Redbank, New Jersey, she eventually graduated and was even more sure of what she wanted to do.
“I was so sure that when I was about 15 years old, and without telling anyone, I grabbed a train to New York City to try for a part in ‘Les Mis.’ I was so young I didn’t realize you needed an agent before you just went out to audition. Needless to say, I didn’t get a part. I didn’t even get to audition. But I still loved being there.”
Learning a valuable lesson, Delopoulos went off to study her craft even further. She graduated with a B.A. in musical performance from Fordham College at Lincoln Center.
“And guess what? Five weeks after I graduated, I got a part in an off-Broadway musical titled ‘A Stoop On Orchard Street,’ and I did that for two years. But as exciting as that was, I began to realize that in addition to doing theater, I also wanted to marry and have a family.”
In order to do that, she knew her salary from acting – when she could get to act – might not be enough to sustain a family. So looking to the future, in 2012 she moved to Philadelphia, connected with the man who would become her husband and began planning for the future. Today, living in West Philadelphia with her husband and son, Delopoulos is a property manager, head of a nonprofit called The Adventure Game, a wife, mother and actor.
That seems a lot to put on one plate, but not for Delopoulos.
“In fact,” she insists, “I’m enjoying it all. I love being a wife and mother. I love being a property manager, which is something I can do from home and running a non-profit. And I especially enjoy being an actor and working for the first time with everyone at Act II.
“Having worked at many theaters in many roles, I believe the most fun part of acting is telling stories. You get to make people realize what’s happening in this world. Although this show doesn’t have any political commentary, it does get people laughing, even feeling a kind of camaraderie. As for me, I think I feel most happy when I’m in a show as well as being a wife and mother, which is amazing. With all I do, I want to be a good parent, and I think being a good parent is achieved by being a good, happy and responsible human being.”
Act II is located at 56 E. Butler Ave. For tickets, call the box office at 215-654-0200.