Meet the players—

Face Painters…a dual narrative saga.

The Present

Brooklyn, NY 1963

The Gravetti funeral business is at a crossroads of survival  and demise during a year mired in racism and the Kennedy assassination.

Buono Gravetti (at 45)

An illiterate but masterful casket builder whose lifelong skills and the family funeral home have always come first. Despite his one talent, honed within the aging confines of his woodshop sanctuary, Buono now has to step out of hiding to care for Luca, his ailing father, and the business crumbling around him.

Luca Gravetti (at 80)

Luca’s dementia is worsening, and his funeral home is on the brink of extinction. In and out of reality, he spends more and more time in the attic where old photos of his past consume his thoughts in comfort and woe. When an infamous event triggers one last memory in him, he sets off on a journey of love and redemption.

Michael Gravetti (35)

Bespoke suits, manicures, impeccable hair and all parading from his MG ragtop, Michael is a Wall Street whiz kid who radiates success but is tarnished by alcoholism and racist dogma. He abandoned the funeral home early on to pursue the highlife, and now he’s back to save the business but with a bone to pick as well.

Abbey Herschel (32)

Abbey works tough hours trying to care for Scarlett and her autistic boy. Her husband is ten years MIA in the Korean War and presumed dead. While her affair with Buono is heartfelt and feels normal with him fixing up her home and being a father figure to her kids, she is ridden with guilt and uncertainty.

Scarlett Herschel (11)

A dead ringer for Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, Scarlett is a real live wire. Her use of racial epithets, because the badass Greasers next door use them, worries her mom and Buono. A precocious tomboy, she learns to empathize with the loss of others. She loves novels and always pushes Buono to read.

Freddie Freeman (55)

Abbey’s coworker at a Brooklyn diner, Freddie’s young girl is dying of leukemia, and he needs a place to carry out her last honors. But he won’t do it around his own people, let alone ask for their charity because they call him an Uncle Tom for working for a Jew. He turns to Buono for help.

Lt. Cavanaugh (60)

The stern lieutenant and his wife visit the Gravetti funeral home in hopes of finding a worthy casket for their fallen son. Things turn interesting when their preference is for one of Buono’s masterful wooden caskets and not any of Michael’s metal cookie-cutters.

Molly Hill (28)

A Teddy girl right out of London, Molly is Michael’s pugnacious girlfriend. And when it comes to scotch and cigars, she can keep up with his unquenchable appetite for Cutty Sark swigs and blazing Montecristos. Turned-up jeans, a black coat, and something to tie around her neck, it’s all attitude. 

The Past

Chiaro, Italy 1928

It’s a heat-wave month in the impoverished peasant hills of Tuscany just prior to the Gravettis immigrating to the New World.

Buono Gravetti (at 6)

A jovial and intelligent kid with all the innocence of youth, Buono skips class just to hang out in his loving grandpa’s woodshop where Leo teaches him the trade. When dire events suddenly force the boy into manhood well beyond his grasp, the dawning of his character will set the course for him to find it.

Luca Gravetti (at 45)

Luca is a decent man with the American dream in his eyes and a spring in his heels. His wife and son always come first until he is distressed by his father’s harsh disapproval of him. With only weeks before sailing to America and leaving his father forever, Luca’s virtues are tested and his rationale rewritten.

Isabella Gravetti (32)

It might just be small-town Italy where peasantry beliefs are the norm, but Isabella, a fiery Sicilian, has all the qualities of a modern-day thinker. She didn’t marry Luca and leave her impoverished isle just to move to the snobby north and watch her son fail in school. It’s the 3 R’s—Luca has no choice.

Leo Gravetti (75)

The hard-boiled patriarch of the Gravetti family, Leo is a revered capitalist who speaks softly, but civic influence and his own band of motorcycle riflemen can speak louder if need be. He loves his son Luca but enjoys reminding him just how useless he is. Buono, on the other hand, is his son god.

“Fatman” Providenza (80)

The syndicate has put this jowly, local strong-arm in charge of clearing out the parish and peasant landowners to make way to a massive port that will soon be remapping the coastline. When Luca tries to redeem his name by repairing a chapel he thought he destroyed, Fatman steps in.

Carmela Ricci (40)

The local baker and Isabella’s best friend, Carmella is always there to lend a helping hand. She sees with her own eyes what Isabella has to go through with a stubborn husband like Luca. She always comes to Isabella’s rescue in one form or another, and she’ll be taking swings at Luca in no time.

Oswaldo Garibaldi (60)

As the poetic and surprisingly thoughtful mob chief of his worldwide syndicate, Garibaldi still has only one thing in mind—his new, modern seaport that will soon be accommodating his expanding shipping empire. When things don’t go his way, he shows just how thoughtful he can get.

Emilio Ippolito (80)

Emilio is a cranky general store owner, as practical as the things he offers—rice, flour, and grave-digging. And why not? He already stocks the shovels. Entirely baffled by just what a funeral director is—Luca’s American dream of parading the dead—Emilio has a simpler view. Just dig the hole, and we go eat.