By Eleni Sakellis
NEW YORK – Actor and writer Evan Zes will present his one-man show, Rent Control in Los Angeles for an exclusive one-night only performance on Saturday, Apr. 22 and then in Astoria in May for a three-day run. The San Jose, CA-native and current Astoria resident spoke with The National Herald about his acting career, the upcoming performances, and the updated version of the show.
Performing Rent Control in Costa Rica for a week, Zes told TNH, he made adjustments to the show that he decided to keep, since the international audience of mostly expats in the vacation town might not get some of the very “New York” references in the play. A the same time, Zes added more ukulele, an instrument he played only briefly in the original show but now plays and sings the Greek children’s song To Kokoraki (Otan tha pao kira mou sto pazari), making the show “a little Greek-er,” he said. The adjustments to the play make it “a more uplifting story,” Zes noted.
The funny and at times poignant show focuses on Zes’ real-life experience as a struggling actor living in a rent-controlled apartment on New York’s Upper East Side. The often fraught world of subletting is revealed along with the lure of easy riches through Airbnb, the peer-to-peer online marketplace allowing people to rent rooms in residential properties short term. Zes shares this cautionary tale with skillful storytelling and humor, portraying nearly 30 characters as they close in on him and threaten to ruin his life. The additional music will undoubtedly expand the play’s appeal to an even wider audience.
Zes’ family roots are from Athens on his father’s side and the island of Kythira on his mother’s side. Music is also in his genes. His father, Dr. Tikey A. Zes has directed Greek Orthodox choirs since 1953 and has been the director of the St. Nicholas Choir of San Jose, CA since 1971. Dr. Zes has been guest conductor and workshop clinician for the Greek Orthodox Choir Federations throughout the United States and has composed/arranged extensively for the services of the Orthodox Church, including 5 liturgies (one in English). In addition, he has written numerous arrangements/compositions for chorus and piano based on Greek folk and popular songs. In 1976, he received the Patriarch title of “Offikion” (letter of patent) from the Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrius and was conferred as “Archon of the Great Church of Christ” for his distinguished work in Church Music.
Since the successful New York run of the show in the Fringe Festival and the Fringe Encore Series 2016 at SoHo Playhouse, Zes has been busy with his acting career and writing a TV pilot based on Rent Control. He appeared in Murder on the Orient Express, an adaptation for the stage of Agatha Christie’s classic novel, at Princeton’s McCarter Theatre Center from March 15-April 2. The play will continue its run at other regional theatres and hopefully make it to Broadway soon.
For Rent Control, Zes noted that a nice long run, ideally in New York, would be great, but expensive. “Space alone is pricey in New York,” he said. The upcoming shows in May will be presented at the Greek Cultural Center which is helping with the marketing of the play as well. Theater directors and producers are expected to attend the performances and possibly help extend the run of Rent Control.
More information about Evan Zes, his play Rent Control, and upcoming performances is available online at www.evanzesrentcontrol.com.