Alumnus Steps into Spotlight Off-Broadway

John Concado '01 is appearing in "Mariela en el Desierto" at the Repertorio Español Theatre through the end of March.

John Concado“Do you want to be famous or do you want to be an artist?”

This is the question that John Concado ’01 offers as a piece of advice to anyone looking to begin a career in the performing arts. Graduating from Manhattan College with a degree in Spanish and psychology, Concado says he never imagined that he would be an actor himself years later.

This month, you can find Concado at the Repertorio Español Theatre, where he is starring in the off-Broadway play, Mariela en el Desierto, directed by Jerry Ruiz. Written by Karen Zacarías, a celebrated Mexican-American playwright, the play portrays a painter from a family of artists who returns home to the Mexican desert to reconcile with her father.

Concado came across the play and grew interested in the role as he familiarized himself with the script.

“I first read it in English and I thought it was beautiful. But somehow it became even more vivid and moving by Karen’s translation,” Concado remarks, explaining that the play naturally flowed better in Spanish. “It is a very poetic play with beautiful imagery. It is a real family play that everyone can enjoy.”

Although he had performed in local plays as a child, Concado never expected to be a working actor after graduating from Manhattan. While studying for his master’s in psychology at Columbia University, he happened to notice a sign near the subway promoting an open call for the theater program’s newest play and decided to take a chance and audition the following day. 

“When I graduated, I knew that I had a good education and that I was prepared to enter the work force,” Concado recalls. “But I didn’t think I was going to end up one day being on the same stage that my mother used to take me to see when I was a kid.”

Concado has done a variety of work in the performing arts, ranging from film and television gigs to theater productions. He spent a year voicing Miller commercials, and still works on voiceovers today in both English and Spanish. He even returned to Manhattan College to teach a Latino theater class as an adjunct professor.

“The most artistically rewarding experience is when you are doing a play with a director that you like and with a cast of actors that you respect,” says Concado, referring to his training at LAByrinth Theater Company, where he had the opportunity to work with some of the greatest actors of modern time, including Philip Seymour Hoffman and Sam Rockwell.

Concado is the first to say that being a working actor is not an easy feat. He stresses that actors need to have the drive to keep going despite minor setbacks along the way.

“If you really want to do this, you must have very thick skin, a lot of patience, determination, and a never-say-die attitude,” he advises. “Overnight success doesn’t exist, so you need to be in it for the long haul.”

While he has come a long way, Concado still gives credit to his roots at Manhattan, explaining that his professors shaped many of the decisions he’s made in his life.

“I am so thankful for Dr. Rodney Rodriquez from the modern languages department, who really took me under his wing at Manhattan and convinced me to study abroad and appreciate the Spanish culture by reconnecting with my roots,” he notes.

Remembering his years at Manhattan, Concado only had positive memories to share from his time at the College, both as a student and as an adjunct professor.

“I had a great time at Manhattan College. It felt like such an extended family there. I had really great professors who were really invaluable to me as mentors that helped shape me as the person that I am in the way I act and carry myself. I’m very grateful for them.”

For more information on Mariela en el Desierto, visit