note: entire contents copyright 2012 by Sheila Barth
This burst of beautiful spring weather is the perfect time to run away for a day, take a scenic ride to picturesque Newport, RI, and enjoy a night of great food and fun at the Newport Playhouse and Cabaret Restaurant, where Ronald Myroup’s hilarious spoof, “Death of a Don,” has patrons laughing out loud - literally.
Directed by Sandy Cerel, this wacky play held in the playhouse boasts a nutty plot and colorful cast of characters, portrayed by a talented cast having a blast on stage.
Sandra Nicastro is hysterically funny as Don Giovanni’s wife, Corrita. She laments she has put up with him for 40 years, and he won’t even take her to Disneyland. With her rolled-up stockings, waddle, and ever-constant, clenched fist, Corrita is the center of this family of killers, criminals and losers, while dignified actor-critic-director Tony Annicone as the Don co-elevates the laugh meter. He orders and slaps his kids around, dodges and dooms his enemies, and spars with Corrita. In an opening scene, the Don riotously clutches his heart, spins and staggers to the couch, convincing the family he’s dead. “It couldn’t be that easy,” Corrita cracks. Minutes later, after eavesdropping on their post-mortems, the Don bolts upright, telling them off.
Later, when an unseen assailant hiding in the Don’s secret passageway shoots him dead, he lies lifeless on the couch, then carried off to cool in the freezer until burial.
The Don’s family isn’t exactly Godfather Don Corleone’s, but they all have a ruthless streak and reason to kill dear old Dad. Daughter Connie, (Jessica Grossman) 33, wants to rule the mob and doesn’t want Dad to arrange a wedding for her. She has her own forbidden lover of 15 years, Rocky “Studds” Malone, (Kevin Killavey), rival gang leader. Son Gino (Ed Carusi) wants to start his own criminal project, which the Don thinks is stupid, like Gino, but the Don admires Gino’s murder tally and “business” ethic. The Don isn’t exactly fond of Gino’s floozy girlfriend, Valaria (Jane McCarron) for his own reasons, so he pays her off to leave Gino. The 70-year-old Don can’t stand his whiny poet son, Roberto (Andrew Katzman), whom he calls a pansy, but he tolerates his overgrown six-foot-five-inch daughter, Baby (Kevin Flynn), who dresses like a gargantuan Marilyn Monroe and aspires to be an actress-singer.
After allegedly killing off Rocky, the Don arranges a marriage between Connie and ugly, bent-over, smelly fish market partner, One-Eyed Joe (Stephen Peterson). That’s when the mayhem escalates.
Like random bullets, the quips, fly fast and furiously. Who killed the Don? Everybody had reason. Who knew about the Don’s secret passageway? More than they admit. Who’s the real culprit, and does Corrita get to Disneyland?
Nobody’s putting a gun to your head or making an offer you can’t refuse, but you’ll enjoy this show, from beginning to end. As the slogan says, the Giovannis put the fun in dysfunctional.
The ride to Newport, large, tasty buffet dinner and free cabaret performance afterward are frosting on the cake.
BOX INFO: Ronald Myroup’s one-act comedy, appearing at the Newport Playhouse and Cabaret Restaurant, 102 Connell Highway, Newport, RI, through May 6. Matinees: Tuesday-Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, doors open at 11 a.m.; buffet, 11:30 a.m., showtime, 1 p.m.; evenings, Friday-Sunday, 6,6:15,8 p.m. Matinee schedule subject to change. Dinner, theater and cabaret, $49.95 per person; theater and cabaret only, $34.95 per person; Friday nights, dinner.play,cabaret for two, $68 inclusive. Group rates for 15-more. Recommended for ages 13-up. Call 401-848-7529 or visit www.newportplayhouse.com.