Theatre Works' holiday show this year is "Ant'ny Claus 2:A Dysfunctional Family Sequel", the world premiere of an original play by Frank O'Donnell. It's Christmas Day and the Claus household prepare for Ant'ny's triumphant return after finally taking over the reins of Santa's sleigh. Just one problem, a small accident on the way home has Ant'ny, Bruno the Elf, a talking reindeer named Bennie Blue Balls and the crew bouncing off the rooftop of the most notorious man, Don Robert Capobianco Sr., in New England. Hilarity and mayhem in typical North Providence style ensue as the Claus house is overtaken by special elves, family members, and some menacing good fellows. Written by Frank O'Donnell and co-directed by Frank and Mark Anderson, they infuse the show with clever shtick and comic situations and routines that keep the audience laughing all night long and garner them a standing ovation for their hard work.
Frank and Mark have 18 performers playing multiple roles. They bring out the best in their hard working cast. Frank based Ant'ny on a character he's played at Christmas gatherings for many years. It is an Italian-American spin on the Christmas season and is sketch-like in nature ala Saturday Night Live. Mark built the gorgeous kitchen set for the show while the holiday costumes are by Sharon Charette. Mark and Frank give all their performers to shine in this show. The biggest scene stealer in this show is Connie Anderson as Carmella Sr. She has many terrific and comic lines. Carmella Sr. is supposed to go back to her son's home but insists on staying to make Ant'ny her famous tomato potato frittata. She makes fun of her dumb blonde daughter-in-law, steals pills including Viagra from a doctor and has two act closing scenes with a Johnston cop and with the head hoodlum that bring the house down.
Geoff White is splendid as Ant'ny, capturing the true essence of this curmudgeonly character who is finally Santa and screws up big time on the way home from his big night. The gangster scenes are hilarious when no one understands why Ant'ny left a note about the accident. His long suffering wife Carmella is beautifully played by Bethany Lynn Giammarco. She has many funny scenes especially the drunk scene at the start of the show. Her funny antics are priceless. Padraig Mahoney is the son who has many comic one liners including one about putting a bell on his grandmother to know where she is at all times and films everyone with the camera Carmella Sr. gave him. He has some clever malapropisms including saying his mother is inseminated when she is inebriated. At one point he ends up in the refrigerator taking the place of an elf and tells his mother not to give him the cold shoulder. Daughter, Holly is played splendidly by Hailey Carol O'Connor, a gorgeous statuesque brunette. She wants to tweet her friends constantly, doesn't want to help grandma cook and flirts with the Johnston cop. Hailey is a sophomore at RIC. The show is full of many twists and turns that keep everyone laughing constantly.
Other comic performers include John Morris as the giant elf, Bruno, Laura Koehler as his long lost girlfriend, Elf Glo,Lynn Nadrowski as Bennie Blue Balls, her overprotective reindeer mother, Roxanne Ladouceur, David Groccia as Carmella's son Francis Albert who was named for Frank Sinatra and gorgeous blonde, Sarah Blodgett as his dumb blonde wife, Mickey. The hoodlum boss is well played by Bill Beatini who makes a startling revelation during the show, Bill also plays a light in the loafers neighbor in the first act, his hoodlum son, Robert Jr. is played by Bobby Ricci who also plays the cop, his dumb bimbo blonde girlfriend played by Karen DiOrio. Ant'ny's hard of hearing father is played by Mark Anderson, the elf doctor who is really a dentist is played by Michael Sheridan and Jack, the manic elf in the icebox is played by Brian Lopes. Let me just say you have to see the comic situations so you can enjoy and savor them. To say anymore about the show would ruin it for the audience. Frank has surprise guest stars to appear in the show and on opening night it was Steve Cascione from Channel 6. So for a marvelous alternative to "A Christmas Carol", be sure to catch Ant'ny Claus to get into the spirit of Christmas. Frank has written a splendid comic script that will entertain audiences for years to come.