Tom Pettey, GB Dixon, Rich Williams, Andrew K. McGill, Geoffrey Rommel, & Annie Brundage in Breaking Legs. Photo: Little Colonel

Breaking Legs

By Tom Dulack       
Directed by George Robert Bailey

A review by Keith Waits

Entire contents are copyright © 2024 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.

The intersection of Organized Crime and entertainment has a basis in reality. A picture of Al Pacino and Al Letteri hanging out with mafia boss Pasquale “Patsy” Eboli, a member of the Genovese family during the filming of The Godfather is proof of that; and every singer and comic who worked night clubs in major cities after World War II was working for the mafia.

Tom Dulack’s Breaking Legs imagines a college professor (GB Dixon) entertaining financial backing for his first play from 3 mafiosos, Mike Francisco (Rich Williams), Tino (Andrew K. McGill), and Lou (Tom Pettey), a restauranteur whose Italian eatery is the setting. He has become acquainted with the “made guys” through Lou’s brassy but attractive daughter, Angie (Annie Brundage), who was once his student and now has designs on the professor, even though he is married.

Dulack treads fearlessly into stereotypes here, peppering the dialogue with plenty of “fongool” (look it up) to leave you no doubt about the territory. It’s a bit daring but works because the take is so broad and satirical. Still, this is well-worn territory. 

The best scenes are when all of the characters are onstage and the cast plays the wit and timing of the text with adroit skill. In the second act, Angie’s crude, Housewives of New Jersey-style attempts to seduce Terance are funny (chiefly because of Brundage’s committed performance) but the playwright lets the scenes go on too long. Act One is tight but Act Two could stand an edit that would restore the pace. 

Director George Robert Bailey puts his cast through their paces with an eye on timing, and they do their best to overcome that drag. As Angie, Brundage is appropriately vampy and brassy, with an accent that skirts nails on chalkboard without ever annoying the audience. GB Dixon’s Terance is not without a backbone but is just hapless enough to look like fresh meat to the appetite-driven Italians. Tom Pettey, Rich Williams, and Andrew K. McGill are having fun tossing the ball back and forth with enough patois to satisfy any Damon Runyon fan.

Geoffrey Rommel has a small role as an acquaintance who cannot pay their gambling debts and is therefore at risk of experiencing the title reference. The program explains the origin of the phrase, “break a leg” to mean “good luck” connecting theatre and horse racing and Dulack plays with the double meaning here in underscoring that the potential violence of these “wise guys” may be very real.

I thought the set design was a cut above for Little Colonel, and the costumes were also well-managed with special kudos for Brundage’s form-fitting red dress (wig and make-up too) and Rommel’s tacky leisure suit that looks straight out of The Sopranos

Ordinary law-abiding citizens have always been fascinated by the mafia and there is a long tradition of satirizing it. Breaking Legs is an entertaining night of theatre for satisfying that itch.

Featuring Annie Brundage, GB Dixon, Andrew K. McGill, Tom Pettey, Geoffrey Rommel, & Rich Williams 

Breaking Legs

April 5, 6, 11, 12, 13 @ 7:30 pm
April 7, 14 @ 2:00 pm

Little Colonel Playhouse
302 Mt Mercy Drive 
Pewee Valley, KY 40056

Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of Artists Talk with LVA on WXOX 97.1 FM /, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music, and visual arts. His work has appeared in LEO Weekly, Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for