The opening show of The Granite Theatre's 2006 season is "Never Get Smart With an Angel". It's winter, 1941, and the world is changing. In a very Italian neighborhood, emigrant Salvatore Bustebrizzo, a loud, bigoted and funny eccentric lives over his shoe repair shop with his 30 year old son, Paolo. Suddenly into Sal's richly ethnic Italian world comes his son's non-Italian girlfriend, Dorothy and her banker father, John Willis Boothe. Only Uncle Carmine can resolve this spirited conflict that this generates. The show's "angel" is Sal's far from angelic wife who has been dead for the past seven years. Only Sal can see her and hear her wise-cracks. The show is hilarious from start to finish with a few poignant moments along the way. David Jepson directs this well written show with a strong hand and makes every moment totally enjoyable with the numerous humorous lines. He casts all of the six roles perfectly. Stage manager Michael Chiaradio keeps the scenes moving and changes the props with ease while Morgan Ban-Draoi runs the lights and sound cues. This show has all the ingredients for one of the must see show of this season.
The show stopping leads of this show are played by Sonny Dufault as Sal and Michael Jepson as Carmine. Their impeccable Italian accents and line delivery are total perfection. Their tirades at each other and their longtime friendship as secret business partners is hilarious. Their belief in praying to certain saints for whatever the situation calls for, has Sonny opening a closet filled with statues of dozens of saints, leading the audience to break out in long moments of laughter. (The beautiful apartment set by David is filled with many religious objects and captures the flavor of the 1940's as the costumes do as well.) Michael as Carmine uses reverse psychology on Sal when he tells him not to let Paolo marry Dorothy. These two men are the masters of comic timing and to give away any of their hilarious lines would spoil it for the audience. Just be sure to catch this one before it's too late. Bravo.
The other performers do a bang up job, too. John Cillino plays Paolo and Melissa Banks plays Dorothy. They make the young lovers interesting throughout with their reactions to the two crazy men who badger, cajole and love them. It is difficult playing the straight man to two comics but they both do a great job in their roles. Marshall Williams is a hoot as the hot headed father who does a slow burn while being insulted by the bigoted twosome. The angel of the show is played by Beth Jepson who is constantly knitting wings and delivering clever one liners to Sal who is the only one who can see her. She tells Sal of future events and how things are in heaven, bringing more merriment to the show while doing so. So for one of the best written shows around, be sure to catch "Never Get Smart With an Angel", you will be glad you did.