My Big Gay Italian Mid Life Crisis
By Anthony Wilkinson
Directed by Jason Cooper
By Annette Skaggs
Entire contents copyright ©2017 Annette Skaggs. All rights reserved.
Susan Crocker, Kristy Calman, Katelyn Webb (front) & Eric Sharp in My Big Gay Italian Mid Life Crisis. Photo courtesy Pandora Productions.
I think that we can all agree on the fact that the world needs to laugh a little bit more, right? Pandora Productions’ latest offering, My Big Gay Italian Mid Life Crisis, will certainly turn that frown upside down.
My Big Gay Italian Mid Life Crisis is the last of a trilogy by playwright/actor Anthony Wilkinson that includes My Big Gay Italian Wedding and My Big Gay Italian Funeral, which Pandora has been lucky to produce in recent memory. The stories center around Anthony Pinnunziato (Jacob Cooper), a thirtty-something, gay Italian-American with a huge family, trying to do what we are all trying to do: find happiness, love, acceptance and fulfillment.
The stage lit up with a burst of light bulbs as overhead we hear an announcer thanking title sponsors and welcoming everyone to the Northeast Weight Loss Seminar. Next Olivia Newton-John’s “Let’s Get Physical” is piped through the sound system and we are introduced to Body Body, a new weight loss program sold throughout the New Jersey/New York area. Spokesperson Toniann (Kristy Calman), bedecked in a tunic, leggings, and sweatband, tells of the trials and tribulations of weight loss while cohorts Lucia (Katelyn Webb) and Connie (Susan Crocker) come on to tout their success before the introduction of Larry (Eric Sharp), the face of Body Body.
After some Zumba fun with unsuspecting audience members, the quartet become their everyday selves, asking where Anthony is. Body Body is the aforementioned Anthony’s new company, but he is not present to talk about his product with waiting consumers. Instead he is holed up in his hotel room, isolated, sullen, and withdrawn. After some coaxing from his Aunt Toniann he realizes the need to buck up and put himself back out there. In doing so he decides to do something different and meets up with a fellow hotel guest for a quick hook-up.
With a little more bounce in his step Anthony joins his Body Body family on the boardwalk to discuss the next course of action for the company, wherein he learns from Toniann that there is an interested investor, Nathaniel (Ken Robinson), that wants to meet and discuss terms. Just as luck would have it, Anthony’s ex, Andrew (Michael Lee Stein), appears and their love is rekindled.
Of course, the plot gets more complicated and a few surprises are unveiled before the play’s end. Despite not seeing the other offerings of the trilogy, I could quickly figure out events and characters that were essential to the other productions, so it was easy and fun to watch.
While Anthony is certainly the title character the other stories that intertwine with his are worth following too, including married couple Connie and Lucia.
While everyone was fantastic, the standout performance has to go to Eric Sharp’s Larry. Just watching his Joe Isuzu smile and reactions and hyper-sexualized movements made me howl. Another actor of note was Katelyn Webb as Lucia. While having more of the ‘tough guy’ mystique about her, she could transform into a warm and demure persona, and her Asian cuisine persona is something to watch.
I believe this cast adored working with one another. Chemistry and warmth were prevalent, especially in timing. Watching the familial quartet gang up on Andrew is sheer delight, particularly the ladies’ responses.
Lighting and sound queues were on point, as were props and visuals, especially Toniann’s purse contents. Costumes were consistent, yet, I would suggest adding something: Lee Press-on Nails.
Pandora Productions, thank you for bringing something contemporary and upbeat to help shake the winter doldrums and add a little levity to our lives. My Big Gay Italian Mid Life Crisis is a funny romp of campy goodness!!!
My Big Gay Italian Mid Life Crisis
January 12-14, 19-21 @7:30 pm
January 15, 22 @ 5:30 pm
January 21 @ 2 pm
Tickets are $20 in advance, and $22 day of show.
Henry Clay Theatre
604 South Third Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Annette Skaggs is heavily involved as an Arts Advocate here in Louisville. She is a freelance professional opera singer who has performed throughout Europe and in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Boulder, Little Rock, Peoria, Chicago, New York and of course Louisville. Aside from her singing career, she has been a production assistant for Kentucky Opera, New York City Opera, and Northwestern University. Her knowledge and expertise have developed over the course of 25+ years’ experience in the classical arts.