Entertainment at its finest. Laughter and craziness abound. It all happens in Little Italy. Rival families-Family strife. Dancing and carousing. Friends and feuds. The story is Serrano D'Angelo's -poet, lover, hit man. As enforcer for the Reyo crime family, Serrano is assigned on threat of death by Don Reyo to teach his nephew, the foul mouthed rogue Vinnie, how to be a gentleman so as to win the heart of the fair Rosanna. In the end Serrano gets the girl-how could it be otherwise-but the journey...there-in lies the delight and I dare not say too much at risk of spoiling the many surprises and twists you should see for yourself. I love this show.
In the first 30 seconds, I was drawn into to the story. I was wowed. I settled into a most enjoyable evening. Madeline Sunshine, the writer, has been nominated for "Best Comedy Writing" by the Writers Guild of America and she didn't disappoint. Serrano is witty, the music and lyrics are fun, the characters endearing, and the story: unexpected at every turn.
The story opens at the Feast of San Genaro where we meet all the characters. Tim Martin Gleason as Serrano has a wonderful voice and just the right amount of pathos. Barry Pearl is the perfect side kick always with a twinkle in his eye. Suzanne Petrela as Rosanna has innocence and sophistication and we all love her as we should. Chad Doreck as Vinnie Pepperini has the most perfect comic timing. Valerie Pearl played her three roles with such distinction I had to double check the program to make sure it was the same woman. As a nun she was outrageous and as Sophia Spumonte she rivaled Gypsy Rose Lee. Chad Borden nailed it as Nickie; squarely over-the-top (plus he had absolutely the best costumes). Craig McEldowney, James Tabeek, and Tom G. McMahon Went from a gang member to sexy tart to motorcycle and a myriad of other characters with unrivaled commitment. Craig McEldowney performed an opera excerpt with such verve and ability and irreverence that I laughed till I cried. Peter Van Norden and Mathew Henerson as the Dons were very serious, sang with gusto while dancing like two roosters circling before the attack.
Serrano has all the right moments and dances but with unexpected combinations of characters. (Again-no spoilers here). The story is predictable but the journey to the end is filled with twists and turns. It even answers the question: Why not plastic surgery?
The choreography was innovative and fun. I can't remember seeing a show where dance movements drew out the laughter but they did . The songs were simply delightful- a myriad of styles each perfect to the moment. I really liked the use of Clarinet, Oboe, English Horn, Flute and Saxophone to add color to the different characters. The set was minimal and functional. The make-up and costume changes were amazing. (The stage manager and crew should be heartily congratulated the cast could not have done it without them.) And the nose was fascinating. I predict this musical will become a favorite on Broadway and community theatre.
Serrano is an absolutely must see. This world premiere is happening now - here in LA. See it now! See it again. Bring a friend. Support live theatre.
Playing Thursdays through Saturday at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm
Through March 29
7657 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Ample Street Parking
PHOTO CREDIT: Brian McCarthy
1.The Company of the World Premiere of "SERRANO THE MUSICAL," choreography by Peggy Hickey, directed by Joel Zwick and now playing at the Matrix Theatre in West Hollywood.
2. Chad Doreck and Tim Martin Gleason
3. Chad Doreck, Suzanne Petrela and Tim Martin
4. (Back Row) Craig McEldowney, Valerie Perri, Chad Borden and Barry Pearl; (At Table) Chad Doreck, Suzanne Petrela and Tim Martin Gleason
5. Tim Martin Gleason, Suzanne Petrela and Chad Doreck
6. Suzanne Petrela and Tim Martin Gleason of the World Premiere of "SERRANO THE MUSICAL," choreography by Peggy Hickey, directed by Joel Zwick and now playing at the Matrix Theatre in West Hollywood.