Monday, November 9, 2015

A Week of Great Regional Theatre

Whew! I've been falling down on the job when it comes to my reading ever since I returned from Maryland. It's been one social event after the other - not that I'm complaining. I've been so busy, I dropped seven pounds!

Don and I attended a fundraiser at our favorite local theatre,
Their annual new play contest was underway, and from over six hundred entries, they had narrowed the possibilites down to three. One play would be chosen by the audience on the evening of the fundraiser for a full staging in the spring.

 Bill Taylor and his cadre of loyal performers have been producing some cutting edge material for well over twenty years now in Fort Myers. They did a great job Friday night of staging readings from the three finalists' plays. We voted for Arlene Hutton's "Vacuum," which appears to pit business against science among a group of idealists who had once hoped they could change the world.

On Saturday afternoon we attended a very workmanlike production of an Agatha Christie mystery called "The Unexpected Guest" at the Florida Repertory Theatre in downtown Fort Myers.
Every actor was spot on, the scenery was professionally perfect, but the play lacked the emotional heft of some of their other productions. They did have a contest at intermission in which the audience had the opportunity to win theatre tickets by guessing the name of the murderer. It was tricky but I did it.

We saved the best for last. On Sunday we had front-row seats at Florida Rep's black box venue to an amazingly energetic and delightful one-woman show based on a memoir, "I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti," by Giulia Melucci, a PR executive with Harper's Magazine.
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Actor Michelle Damato was fantastic. She came across as exactly the kind of gal you'd want to spend an evening with, dishing on guys and quaffing wine. For two hours she regaled the audience with the story of her unsuccessful search for the perfect man over a twenty year span. As she chatted us up she prepared a full Italian meal from scratch and served it to eight lucky audience members who sat at strategically placed tables in Giulia's "kitchen."

Ms. Damato channeled Melucci and her love of cooking. In her Brooklyn brownstone, she chopped and diced veggies for Bolognese sauce, served an anti-pasta of artichoke hearts and prosciutto, and made noodles from scratch, all while fielding calls from her mom up in Connecticut, and sipping a smooth red. I can't imagine the concentration required to perform in this way, all the time interacting with the audience, asking us questions, calling out for answers.

By the end of the afternoon, I was half in love with her myself and so wanted Giulia to find the right  guy. If this play is any indication, the book must be a pure delight. And no, you don't need to be young or single to enjoy it.

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