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Culture

Musical Theater Production Highlights the Life and Times of Sofia Vembo

March 26, 2024

NEW YORK – Sofia Vembo was a leading Greek singer and actress active from the interwar period to the early postwar years and the 1950s. She became best known for her performance of patriotic songs during the Greco-Italian War in 1940.

A new musical theater production, ‘Sofia Vembo, I Remember You,’ delves into Vembo’s life, bringing to light aspects of her career, her personal sensitivities, historical reflections, her romantic escapades, that shaped her character and her music.

Written by Tania Harokopou, directed by George Stamou, and starring Eleanna Finokalioti and Tasos Karydis, ‘Sofia Vembo, I Remember You’ will be performed at the Hellenic Cultural Center, 25-02 Newtown Avenue in Astoria, on Friday, April 12, 8 PM, and Sunday, April 20, 5 PM, as part of the Greece As It Is (GRis) Festival in New York City this April.

The show features Sofia Vembo at the peak of her career and in the context of her last interview, reminiscing about the course of her life. Emotionally charged, she describes both pleasant and unpleasant events that have marked her in simple but significant ways. For the first time in her life, she recalls unexpected situations, recalls faces, performances, joyful moments, romantic interludes, and reveals historical events in a narrative that comes straight from her heart.

‘Sofia Vembo, I Remember You,’ at the Thespis Theater at the Hellenic Cultural Center in Astoria, NY, April 12 and 20. Photo: GRis Festival

Actress and singer Eleanna Finokalioti spoke to The National Herald about the production and about taking on the role of Sofia Vembo.

TNH: What drew you to the character of Sofia Vembo?

Eleanna Finokalioti: I was drawn to portraying Sofia Vembo due to her remarkable legacy as both a talented singer and actress. Her resilience and patriotism during challenging times serve as an inspiration, and I am more than honored to pay tribute to her on stage. Furthermore, her ability to captivate audiences with her powerful performances inspired me deeply. These qualities resonated strongly with me, motivating me to explore her character and bring her story to life with authenticity and respect.

TNH: What has been the most challenging aspect of taking on this role?

EF: The biggest challenge has been finding the right balance between respecting Vembo’s iconic persona and bringing my own interpretation to the role. Mastering her vocal style and especially her stage presence has also demanded careful preparation. It’s a delicate yet rewarding process to capture the essence of such an iconic figure and bring my own artistic vision to the character.

TNH: What has been the most rewarding aspect of working on this project so far?

EF: Diving into Vembo’s world has been a truly rewarding experience. I’ve gained a deeper understanding of her life, the challenges she faced, and her remarkable accomplishments. Working with a talented team to bring her story to the stage has been incredibly fulfilling. I feel privileged to share Vembo’s legacy with audiences. Exploring the complexities of her character has been a deeply enriching experience for me.

TNH: Are there plans to tour with the show?

EF: The possibility of bringing the show to more audiences, both within the U.S. and internationally, is being explored. I’m excited to see where this journey leads and thrilled at the idea of sharing Sofia Vembo’s story with even more people. More dates and details about the tour will be announced soon.

More information and tickets are available online: https://tinyurl.com/4mztdrwp.

The GRis Festival is a festival from Greece dedicated to showcasing new artists and performers who have a fresh and innovative approach to Greek culture and heritage. With a focus on challenging stereotypes, celebrating diversity, and promoting creativity, this festival is all about bringing people together and fostering a greater understanding and appreciation of different cultures and perspectives.

Learn more about the GRis Festival online: https://grisfestival.com/wp/.

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