Friday, April 19, 2019

Madcap “The Servant of Two Masters" at New Village Arts Theatre Is One Big Barrel Of Monkey Business.

If you happen to be Samantha Ginn, somewhere in your credits it will show that you were in the New Village Arts world premiere adaptation of Carlo Goldoni’s 1746 Commedia dell’Arte  “Servant of Two Masters”.

What it won’t say is that you are an amazing, talented, multi tasking ball of energy and in this new and zany adaptation of the above Commedia del’Arte “Servant of Two Masters" you outdid yourself beyond expectations.  
Amara Young and Eliana Payne

Sam Ginn with Dallas McLaughlin
In fact it will also say that you and AJ Knox collaborated to bring this adaptation of a no class ‘All comedy. No manners’ production to a theatre near (NVA) you, filled with unsuspecting, yet the usual suspects, or in short order the opening night regulars who will laugh at anything, but in this case, we all laughed and guffawed together. Low humor has a way with shared experiences.

Ginn, in case you missed the reference, is the manservant called Truffaldino, or Gelato depending on what part of Italy your from.  His one master is Florindo Alfredo ( Skyler Sullivan)  looking fit, handsome and very tall in Keira McGee’s colorful outfits).

Alfredo is on the run because he dun Beatrice Ravioli’s (lovely Eliana Payne) brother Bopoli Ravioli in. When we meet up with Beatrice/ Bopoli (she/he) is disguised as her own twin brother. Follow the dots at your risk. I think I got that one right!!!!!!!

Pantalone Calzone (Dallas McLaughlin) is his other shady master. He has a daughter Clarice (a charming Amara Young) who is deeply in love with Silvio Pepperoncini (Tony Houck is at his lady day best doing what he does naturally; he’s simply funny in an off handed way). He is also a wanna be warrior poet. It matters not that he has never been a warrior nor written a poem.

Tony Houck and Durwood Murray

Cast of Servant of Two Masters with Samantha Ginn and Max Macke in forefront

Knox directs his outstanding cast by first having the playwright Goldoni, himself (Dallas McLaughlin) ready to tell us all about the story and characters. He’s somewhat smug, so he’s gone as fast as he’s seen

Moving along.

While the two sets of masters complicate their shared servant’s life by running their servant around in circles carrying out their requests, he’s trying to keep them separated while on a hunt for a good meal to fill his the empty pit in his stomach.  

He also has eyes on Smeraldina Haggis (Max Macke sounding much like Harvey Fierstein’s full throttled and guttural voice.) She’s Clarice’s tough as nails maid. Now that’s a romance made in heaven. While Truffaldino is off doing his shtick for his masters, Macke’s Haggis waits in the wings looking slinky and well…sexy puffing on a cigarette that never seems to turn out any smoke but she keeps on dragging.  

But the piece de resistance, one that brought the house down was when Truffaldino and Simeraldina dance to Andrea Bocelli’s  “Con Te Partirò” (or Time to say goodbye) in a surreal scene aided by Chris Renda and David Romero Christopher’s lighting design. The song seemed to go on forever. It was a highlight for yours truly. Jenna Ingrassia-Knox choreographed. Hats off.
Eliana Payne and Gerilyn Brault
While all his is going on Pepperoncini’s father Dr. Pepperoncini (Durwood Murrayis a treat to watch) pops in every now and then to talk about his conspiracy theories that always come in 2’s. So watch those two fingers define his so -called logic.

 Brighella Boyardee (a sharp Gerilyn Brault) is the inn –keeper, chef and small business owner who stands at one edge of the set keeping an eye on all the comings and goings. Karen, (Sherri Allen) her assistant, is looking for purpose in her life.

Allen, who stands about four feet tall, puts in a stellar performance as she prepares a grand meal for the masters and gets hit from all sides with injuries until she’s a walking infirmary. Truffaldino covets the food that comes out of a makeshift kitchen but, well use your imagination which by now is probably two steps ahead of the adapters'.

If you haven’t been feeling the IT yet in a world gone mad, you might want to chance this absolutely, laugh at your own risk, madcap story to get some angst out of your life.

Love and romance, improv and insanity, acrobatics, gymnastics and stand up comedy are  musts in this daffy world of disguises, cross dressing, and misunderstandings, resurrections (good timing) play on words, gags and anything else the co-creators throw in to keep the playgoer’s on their heels. The good news is the company is up for it all. 
Reid Moriarity and Samantha Ginn
Local references abound; Sandal’s Ramona, Vigillucci’s, (the Italian eatery on State Street), the new ice cream shop across from the theatre and lots fart jokes (I could hear less of those; I have enough gas of my own thank you.)

Violet Ceja’s sound design, Scott Murello’s organized messy set, Emily Dragon flight direction (no one got hurt on opening night) all make this one big busy laugh out loud evening.  

As an aside, some of Ms. Ginn’s acting students (she teaches neurodiversity and special needs youth, “The Mainstage Players”,) take turns at a walk in role as the Banana Salesperson, marking it their ‘professional acting debut’. Those in the program include Liam Porter, Rachel Ford, Kenton Makings, Ethan Marr, and Reid Moriarty (whom I believe made his debut on opening night).

Samantha Ginn as she is
Farce, commedia dell’arte, slapstick, improv and just fake it till you make it are on the stacked menu along with a super talented cast of character actors worthy of pulling this two hour plus stunt to belly laughs, groan’s, to give me a break, to say it isn’t so nods.

At one point Ginn had us all wave to her Mother who was in the audience. “Because my parents had a good funny bone, I grew up on Loony Toons, Monty Python, Marx Brothers, Muppets, Mr. Bean and others.

I spoke briefly with her parents about their daughtre's high -energy personality and knack for the absurd, but mostly her creative genius.  They nodded and gave me a big smile.

See you at the theatre.

Dates: Through May5th
Organization: New Village Arts Theatre
Phone: 760-433-3245
Production Type: Comedy
Where: 2727 State Street, Carlsbad Village,
Ticket Prices: $25.00- $36.00
Photo: Daren Scott

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