As a Concordia graduate and the inaugural Italian-Canadian voice on the English-Canadian stage, Rossi has never strayed far from his roots. Born in 1961 in Ville-Émard, Rossi’s first brush with storytelling came from his father, who he describes as the most powerful storyteller he ever knew.
“He had it tough: he was abandoned by his father, World War II broke out and he got stationed in Egypt, he fought and was almost killed, but was captured by the British who saved his life. He spent four years as a PoW and then emmigrated,” said Rossi.
“When you asked him a question, he always responded by way of a story and they were always so vivid: you saw the visions he saw, felt the feelings he was expressing… it was almost like cinema.”
Other than his father and a particularly special teacher he had in Grade 3 who introduced theatre to her class, igniting a passion in him that would never die, Rossi credits Concordia with giving him the tools he needed to transform his imagination into reality.
“First of all, just basic stagecraft, like what the hell does stage left mean; you learn it there,” he said with a laugh. “But the real value was Jerry Gross. He was one of the teachers in the theatre department at the time. He told us, ‘look, you have this little space here and you can feel free to use it whenever you want.’ It’s there that my first plays were rehearsed, tried out and performed. That experience was invaluable, I can’t stress it enough.”
Rossi thinks the little space in question, the one that used to be known as the Chameleon Theatre at Loyola Campus, is a storage room now but that doesn’t make it any less memorable.
Because it’s where he got his start.
Rossi is giving back by offering Concordia students a special rate of $20 per ticket for Tuesday and Wednesday evening performances of The Chain, as well as for matinées, by using the promo code Concordia online.