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Review: Don’t blame it on the stork

Calabretta’s latest is a real crowd pleaser

By Byron Toben

The blame for creating a real crowd pleasing stage drama can be placed not on a gangly bird, but on the “two Tonys”. They are writer (and actor) Tony Calabretta and director Antonio DiVerdis. Aided by Westmount’s Eris Salvatori as executive producer, they have added another production involving the dynamics of Italian family life to a number shown in Montreal in recent years.

What is historic about this show is that it is staged for a month long run in the beautiful and huge Lino and Mirella Saputo theatre (533 seats) at the fine Centre Leonardo Da Vinci in east end St-Leonard with its large Italian-Canadian population. Previously, that venue had been used for movies and short run plays. The Centaur theatre and the Segal Centre had kept the genre alive with such shows as the plays of Vittorio Rossi, Steve Gallucio, Joe DiPietro and Arthur Miller.

In this play, the many scenes are punctuated with short bursts of pop Italian tunes such as “When You Get Hit in The Eye With a Big Pizza Pie, That’s Amore”.

The versatile Nadia Verrucci plays Carmi, a pregnant wife married to a non Italian, Derick (Shawn Campbell) living in a duplex shared by her father, Mimmo (Dino Tavarone) and mother Bettina (Veronica Melis). Near by are her brother Mario (Guido Cocomello) and his wife Theresa (Eleanor Noble), who always drop by, as does old family friend Lou (Tony Calabretta).

In this play, the many scenes are punctuated with short bursts of pop Italian tunes such as “When You Get Hit in The Eye With a Big Pizza Pie, That’s Amore.

Derick, not used to the comforting closeness of the famiglia, which he finds suffocating, contemplates deserting Carmi. The encroaching illness of Mimmo and discord between Mario and Theresa provide a serious spine to this humorous piece. Playwright Calabretta has penned some of the biggest laughs for his own role as Lou, including card cheating, fear of ghosts and giant rats (that may be only mice). All in all, Don’t Blame It On The Stork has a sitcom feel… but nothing wrong with amusing sitcoms… and that from me, your basic Shakespeare/Shaw/Chekov/Brecht kinda guy!

Can’t wait for the reprise of Calabretta’s “Damn Those Wedding Bells” at the Da Vinci Centre in autumn of 2016 (last seen at Centaur 20 years ago), especially if he can corral seven such accomplished actors as on this one.

Don’t Blame it on the Stork runs till Sunday October 11.
For tickets call 514 955-8370 or online at Leonardo da Vinci Centre Box Office.

Image: Gino Calabretta

Byron Toben is a past-president of the Montreal Press Club.

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