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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Italian-American Reconciliation & The Red Coat
This excellent production is part of the Thirteen by ShanleyFestival, performing works from the collected plays in the volume of the same name, by the 68 Cent Crew Theatre Company. The company's founder, actor/director Ronnie Marmo, directs this one and the short curtain-raiser, The Red Coat with a deft instinct for the characters' emotions and arcs. The two teen-agers who discover love in The Red Coat are played by the disarmingly gauche Brent Austin Tarnol and Shelly Hacco, an adorably quivering adolescent on the brink.
In the main course, which is part of the Moonstruck era, Aldo Scalicki, the narrator (Danny Nucci) is appalled to find his best friend Huey (Danny Cistone) is about to dump his adoring girlfriend Teresa (Kim Rousseau) to return to his abusive wife Janice (Angela Pupello), who has also shot his dog. Teresa vents to her wise Aunt May (Sally Struthers) and Aldo determines to save Huey by seducing Janice himself.
When we first see Aldo, standing under a beautiful flowery balcony, he seems like the schmuck Janice calls him. We're reminded of what a schmuck Romeo was before Juliet got her hands on him. In the last scene, Aldo takes his fear to Aunt May, crying "The men are like bombs and the women are like bombs and everybody's negotiating like it's the atomic talks. Little kids look like lawyers to me." Finally May declares, "Stop this scaredness of women. It's silly. You can hold your own. "
Sally Struthers, whose early career included Archie Bunker's daughter on All In The Family, was born to play Shanley parts. As a robust Aunt May, she rolls into his rhythms and dialogue as if she created them. Angela Pupello makes Janice a gimlet-eyed termagant in astringent constrast to the other characters. Kim Rousseau does well as Teresa, a part with limited range. Cistone makes his arc from early dementia to a man who's pitched the burden of his world off his shoulders. Nucci, a handsome charmer hiding from love, finally wends his way to P. J. Clark's determined not to worry his date might kill him, muttering Always the Prince, never the King.
This revival is well worth seeing and well done.