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McDonough native takes
talent to the Big Apple


By Alex Welch
Assistant Editor 

  If you happen to come across Marilyn Monroe while passing through Brooklyn, New York, you might be speaking to a professional actress who began her work right here in Henry County. Maria Aparo, a native of McDonough, has advanced her initial high school drama department interest into a blossoming career in the Big Apple, and she recently began a new performance that takes place in the heart of the city.

Maria Aparo sits on the set of a web series called The Jessica Project. She plays a film school graduate with aspirations of becoming a documentary filmmaker.                     Special photo

  Aparo started performing in plays during her teenage years at Union Grove High School, but she recalls a love for theatrics stemming from a younger age. Coming from a family with a creative background likely guided her in the direction of her line of work today.

   “Growing up, I was always the kid writing my own plays and playing make believe by myself, or making my dad play all the characters in Cinderella,” said Aparo. “I come from a fairly artistic history. My dad is a singer/songwriter. I have writers in my family and visual artists.”

  Aparo said her family always accepted her career. At Union Grove, she appeared in the first play the school ever put on. From there, she went on to pursue a performing arts path, attending Shorter University in Rome, Ga., for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre. She continued her studies at the Portland Actors Conservatory and went on to eventually move to New York City.

  After moving to New York three years ago, she continues to find new opportunities to display her talent. Aparo recently began starring in ENIGMA: The Show, an immersive performance that takes place in Brooklyn Heights. This type of theater isn’t just your run-of-the-mill showing, though.

  ENIGMA is an outdoor mystery performance that takes its audience on a journey throughout a historical side of town. Aparo said viewers purchase tickets online and then convene at a specific meeting spot in a neighborhood in Brooklyn. The story is about a mystery novelist who is preparing to release a new book, but before his work comes out, he goes missing. When the audience arrives, they meet the writer’s editor to start the performance. They are handed maps, revealed a few clues about the plot and sent on their way. Aparo said they meet other characters throughout the walk, and they are tasked with solving the mystery by ultimately working together.

  “The whole interactive immersion theater experience is something that’s really gaining popularity,” said Aparo. “It’s fun and I think it lets you be so much more participatory.”

  Aparo plays Marilyn Monroe. The famous actress ties into the neighborhood because her former husband, Arthur Miller, lived in this area of Brooklyn. She talks to the viewers and provides more clues regarding the ongoing mystery. Interacting with the audience creates a new experience every day, according to Aparo.

  “You get some audiences that come through and are very interested in being part of the scene. There are parts where they get to act out a scene with Marilyn. Some people make up their own lines,” said Aparo. “Every night of a play is different, but this type of theater takes it up to the 10th degree.”

  But the bright lights of New York haven’t made Aparo forget where she came from. She said she visits McDonough at least once a year to see her family.

  “It’s one of my favorite places. We definitely take the time each year to go back home and visit friends and family,” said Aparo. “I love representing Georgia in New York.”

  ENIGMA runs Friday through Sunday every weekend until October, but Aparo stays busy with other projects as well.

  “The life of a pro actor is always looking for work. I have a few other projects going on simultaneous,” said Aparo.

  She said she is hosting a documentary that follows a project by Rebuilding Together, which shows the process of rebuilding New York homes that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy. She will be playing a lead role in an upcoming feature film, and she’s even developing a one-woman show. Aparo said she ultimately wants to create her own work.

  “I hope to stay in this direction I’m going now, booking bigger jobs and getting bigger recognition. In the meantime I’ve been fortunate enough to produce and act some original pieces,” said Aparo. “I’d love to be able to parlay some of my connections to develop more original work.”



©Henry County Times, Inc.