“Happy Ending,” the newest play from Ronnie Larsen, creator of the Off Broadway sensation, “Making Porn,” will receive its world premiere, May 4 – 28, at Empire Stage, 1140 N. Flagler Dr. in Fort Lauderdale. The play has already been booked for a second production at the Above the Stag theater in London.
Based on a real encounter, Larsen’s drama explores the unlikely relationship that develops between a gay masseuse, Andrew, who is attracted to straight men, and his straight client, Mr. Miller, during an intimate massage session. What starts as a standard Swedish rubdown takes a number of unexpected turns as the men, in turn, make startling revelations and bare their hopes and dreams to each other. Yes, there is the literal “happy ending” that accompanies many massages, but will the men arrive at the proverbial “happy ending” they both so desperately seek?
“You know something sexual is going to happen because it’s my play,” said Larsen, “but, I don’t think audiences will be prepared for the emotional twists and turns these characters take. This is the closest I’ve come to writing a real psychological thriller.”
More than 100 New York-based actors auditioned for the two-man show, including Matthew Pappadia, a degreed occupational therapist who brings his professional training to the role of Andrew, the masseuse.
New Yorker, Matthew Robert Pappadia most recently, received his master’s degree in Occupational Therapy with plans to use theater to improve the well-being of LGBT youth. Since graduation, Matthew has helped develop many new works for film, with his most recent involvement in the series, “Don’t Schmuck It Up” (Ashley). Matthew also maintains a career in international modeling, having been featured in “Vanity Hype” Magazine last August. He will be preparing soon for his third stand up comedy show with the Bolton Center of New York. As well as performing, Matthew Pappadia is the CEO of PapsFitness, an online health and wellness consultation business. It was a pleasure to sit down with Matthew for this Hotspots exclusive interview.
Have you always been a performer even as a kid or when did it start?
I have performed my whole life and I went to school Ithaca college and I got accepted to the acting program, but i switched my major to occupational therapy in my freshman year in order to help kids with issues through acting. However, this is the first time I will have been back on the stage since college.
When did you get your first professional job and what was it?
It was a Bazooka Bubble gum commercial when I was 14.
You are an actor, stand up comedienne, model, Masseuse, fitness guru and occupational therapist, which do you enjoy most and why?
I enjoy the feeling of touching people and leaving them with a higher sense of well-being, in whatever context that is.
It doesn’t seem like you have a lot of free time, but when you do what do you do for fun?
I love to hang out with my mom and do drawings together. I also love to read, and I am constantly looking for material for my stand up shows or new routines for my work out clients.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Spontaneous, selfless and faithful.
Are you excited about starring in the production of Happy Ending at Empire Theater?
I am overjoyed to star in this production. I am leaving my full time as an OT, to go back to acting. This is a new starting point for me. It’s the first chapter of my new book.
What does the future hold for Matthew?
Wherever god takes me. I want to continue to build Paps fitness and open gym and also open a theater rehab for adolescents and kids.
The world premiere production of “Happy Ending” by Ronnie Larsen will be performed Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m., May 4 – 28, at EmpireStage, 1140 N. Flagler Dr. in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets are $35 – $50 at RonnieLarsen.com.