'Hear What's in the Heart': One-Man's Exploration of the Italian-American Experience

May 4, 2018

Steve Scionti’s “Hear What’s in the Heart: An Italian Shoemaker's Tale,” is a one-man exploration of the Italian-American experience. Scionti is the playwright and sole performer of the show, which documents his experiences growing up in Middletown, Connecticut.

"I would talk about Middletown, growing up in Connecticut, talking about my grandfather and the neighborhood pizza guy and I would have my acting teacher cracking up," Scionti recalls. "And he goes, 'You gotta come back in and start doing improv - you have enough material to do one man show.'" He admits that although it was intimidating to do a one-man show, Scionti came in every week to work on his colorful Italian characters for two years.

The play is currently on stage at Milwaukee’s Next Act Theatre. "Hear What's in the Heart" first premiered in L.A. in the late 90s, where it first caught the eye of Milwaukee-native Anthony Crivello. Now decades later, he’s directing the show in his hometown.

Crivello notes that all audiences can connect with the themes and colorful characters of the show, even if they didn't grow up with the Italian-American family experience.

"It is about characters in Steve's life, it's family members, it's people in the neighborhood. And there's universal wisdoms handed down from each one of those different sources," he says.

Crivello and Scionti joined Lake Effect's Joy Powers to talk about the show and its long journey to the Cream City: