Flushing writer tackles multiple genres to tell tales

Queens native Richard Vetere has had success as a playwright, screenplay writer and novelist. Photo courtesy Ron Hellman
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I’m back from a couple of weeks in Central Europe — Prague and Budapest and thereabouts — and now I’m in a cozy corner of the West Village at the Cherry Lane Theatre listening to Richard Vetere tell some of his stories.

Vetere’s got a lot of them — he’s made it to age 61 and he’s got a lot to tell. Mainly he talks about the friends he grew up with in Queens, a crush or two, a guy who kept taking his lemon cake, and later on some celebrities he had a chance to meet. All under the heading of “Love the Night.”

Vetere, of course, is a celebrity himself, even though perhaps you never heard of him. Such is fame! To correct that oversight, get on Google and see an impressive and lengthy list of his accomplishments. A playwright, poet, novelist, film and TV writer, Vetere has earned lots of critical recognition and acclaim, but he’s still a regular guy from Maspeth, now living in Flushing.

One of his plays, “The Marriage Fool” (also known as “Love after Death”), was turned into a TV movie. Somewhat autobiographical, Vetere’s character was played by John Stamos and his father by Walter Matthau. Perhaps his best known novel, “The Third Miracle,” was adapted as a film starring Ed Harris and is set in Saint Stanislaus in Maspeth. A Jason Alexander vehicle was “How to go on a Date in Queens” and Vetere’s musical “Be My Love: The Mario Lanza Story” was produced by Sonny Grosso and Phil Ramone.

His latest novel, “The Writers Afterlife,” comes out next year. “The Other Colors in a Snow Storm,” his new book of poetry, was just published, and he’s got a play for children called “Bird Brain.” A lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, East, he also has some teaching credits, including a screenwriting course at Queens College.

The guy keeps busy.

As an explanation of his prolific output, Vetere says: “Growing up in Queens gave me a safe distance away from the turbulence and impersonal world of Manhattan, allowing me the quiet to write.” But maybe it’s what his longtime buddy Israel Horovitz said: “Vetere is a man with a writer’s soul.”

“Blood Brothers”, the Astoria Performing Arts Center’s latest musical, playing to sold-out audiences, has been extended for another week. If you’re lucky, you might still get a ticket for Friday or Saturday. It’s Memorial Day weekend, which means the Parkside Players (Forest Hills) runs its spring production. This one’s a comedy called “Peterpat,” directed by the multi-talented Kevin Schwab, and performs weekends through June 1.

Over in Sunnyside, Thalia Spanish Theatre (718-729-3880) has the bilingual world premiere of “tu arma secreta contra la Celulitis Rebelde” — for you Anglos that’s translated as “secret weapons of Fat Destruction” (which, by the way, is the “F” word I never use). Billed as a “provocative comedy,” it plays through June 23. And for a special treat, Thalia’s 19th annual free celebration of Hispanic music and dance takes place on Sunday, June 2 and 9, in Thomson Hill Park.

Contact Ron Hellman at

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