Bay Ridge has its own star on the rise — actor and filmmaker Charles Mandracchia, who recently landed a role on the upcoming show “The Neighborhood,” a mob drama based in Brooklyn in the ’80s.
Mandracchia, 55, who described himself as a shy child, was born and raised in Bay Ridge. He found his love of acting as early as two years old. “Drama was just something I knew how to do well,” he said. “As a kid, I was always creating plays, doing scenes, writing and performing them in the basements of friends’ houses. I would dress up like Geraldine from ‘The Flip Wilson Show.’ Everyone would laugh. I charged the other kids in the neighborhood 25 cents to see the show.”
The actor attended P.S. 104 and got a part in his first musical, “Meet Me in St. Louis,” receiving encouragement from faculty. “Principal Dennis Moore took me under his wing and encouraged me to perform in the arts,” Mandracchia recalled. “I won the Drama Award for School District 20, though it wasn’t until eighth grade that I knew I was destined for a life on Broadway and in film. My mom took me to see ‘Grease’ on Broadway and I knew my calling was to be an actor.”
Mandracchia attended Fort Hamilton High School then Brooklyn College, where he majored in television, acting and film. “I was proud to be a Bay Ridge actor and be on Broadway at the same time,” he said. “As a performer, I have appeared in numerous Broadway and Off-Broadway productions.” These include the original Broadway cast of ‘Grand Hotel the Musical,’ ‘South Pacific’ and ‘Porgy and Bess’ at New York City Opera and the Equity Library Theatre.
His neighborhood has played a major role in his career and life. “Bay Ridge is amazing,” Mandracchia said. “It is a place that looks and acts like New York City, but there is a strong neighborhood bond that you can only understand if you’re from Brooklyn. It’s a real family.”
Landing his latest role on “The Neighborhood” has been another big break for the actor. “‘The Neighborhood’ caught the essence of the words family, friends and neighborhood,” Mandracchia explained. “I think audiences will relate to it because anywhere you go in the world, people want to be a part of a family.”
He met the show’s director at a festival and the rest is history. “I first met William DeMeo and Chris Victor at the Hang Onto Your Shorts Film Festival where DeMeo was honored with an Honorary Achievement of the Arts in Acting Award,” he said. “I won my 14th IMDB award at the same festival for Best Animation for “You Got a Problem,” a short film that I directed and animated.
“Festivals are a great way for an actor to network with directors,” Mandracchia added. “It was a great opportunity to shake their hands. Little did I know it would lead to them casting me in a part. I play one of the bouncers in the Bay Ridge Disco Nightclub. I am very thankful.”
Mandracchia described his time with lead actor and writer DeMeo as a positive experience. “He is a true gentleman and a fine artist, and an elegant and intelligent writer, director and actor with a keen eye for talent and creativity, He is a fine man of great stature that has put together a team of truly great Brooklyn patrons, actors, film crew and especially loved ones and friends. They all love working with him and Chris Victor. DeMeo is a people person and always has time for anyone.”
Besides “The Neighborhood,” Mandracchia said he would continue promoting “You Got a Problem,” which will be shown at the Brightside Tavern Shorts Film Festival (July 28 to 30).
There is no set date for the premiere of “The Neighborhood.”