Reviewed by Tony Annicone
Footlights Rep’s current show is the very funny “Breaking Legs.” The setting is an Italian restaurant in a small New England university town where the worlds of the Mafia and theatre clash hilariously with each other. A professor who is a playwright seeks funding for his new play from a former student’s family. The former student is a lusty, unwed woman who has a major crush on and is hot for the professor.
Her “family” turns out to be three Mafia godfathers who are involved with the untimely death of a thug associate. When the playwright learns about the “accidental” killing, his bubble is burst when he finds out his backers are gangsters. The hilarious antics of all the characters under the direction of Sue Nedar will lead the audience in gales of laughter from start to finish when you find out that the lady of the house really rules the roost.
Sue casts these roles very well with each one fitting their parts to a tee and her stage manager Diane Durand keeps things running smoothly all night long with the enormous amount of food needed for this show. Chris Mac plays Angie’s father, Lou Graziano. Lou controls everything in his life except his strong willed daughter, Angie. Chris gives the role the humor it needs. He also shows his warmth for his daughter, too. Chris and his two sidekicks have various specials of the day brought to the table while discussing the play with the professor while offering their expertise on show business which is none. However they are the money men so their word counts. Lou also mangles the English language a few times like the statue of limitations is up. The two lovers in this show are Nicola Piona and Joel Ward. She is a pretty brunette who is marvelous as the strong willed, Angie. She commands the stage with her strong stage presence. Angie makes the three dons do her bidding throughout the show with one of the strongest near the end of the show when Angie runs roughshod over their wishes. One of her funniest lines occurs during an argument with her father when she threatens to leave home if they don’t accept the script the way it is and exclaims she won’t lose him to “that man eating bitch.” The seduction scene with the professor is also hilarious and wins many laughs. It is reminiscent of “When Harry Met Sally” movie scene. Also her yelling at Terry that wakes aren’t life is funny, too. Joel is topnotch as Terrence O’Keefe, the serious hard working professor who finally stands up to the hoodlums when they want to rewrite his play into “The Student Prince” or add a fat niece, Carmela playing her accordion. Joel had a comic drunken scene in the second act when he drinks everyone’s glass of booze. When Angie convinces him that he truly loves her and he sweeps her offstage to have his way with her on the Castro convertible couch in her office. Later on when Terry tries to bargain with the hoods, it is Angie who wins the day. Before she wins the day, he becomes the mouse who roared. All of Joel’s facial expressions are perfect for this role, too.
Ed Carusi plays Uncle Mike Francisco who always has problems with his stomach but still orders hot peppers and meatballs while guzzling wine. He is hilarious in this role and his laugh while not moving his lips is hysterical. Ed plays the role with ease while delivering his many humorous lines. His funny laugh and the blessing of themselves when they mention so and so should rest in peace are comic standout moments. Mike’s right hand man, Tino DeFelice is played by Jason Trenholm. He delivers the goods in this role as the intimidating and threatening thug who also knows about show business. His funniest line is when he says that the murder in the script makes his blood run cold and that Terry is probably secretly a hit man. Jason also sings a verse of “Tomorrow” when they want Terry to add music to the show. The mafia men in this show are a laugh riot. Rounding out the cast is Brandt Swanson as Frankie Salvucci. He tries to smooth talk his way out of paying the hoodlums off. Also a word of praise for the gorgeous restaurant set complete with a window so the audience can witness the Mafia threatening Frankie while Angie is having her feet rubbed by Terry. So for a fun filled evening with an hilarious comedy, be sure to catch “Breaking Legs” at Footlight Rep in Swansea, MA.
BREAKING LEGS (4 to 6 May)
Footlights Repertory Company, Swansea Grange, 65 Milford Road, Swansea, MA
1(774)644-4539 or www.footlightsrep.net