Friday, March 2, 2012

Theater Review: Centennial Casting -- Seven Angels

Elizabeth Rouse, Amada Brooke Lerner, Nicholas Wilder, Anthonay Patellis, (seated) Lou Martini, Jr. Photo courtesy of Seven Angels.
Once the Lie is Cast, Can Romance Break It?
By Lauren Yarger
What does a 47-year-old single guy need to do to get a date with the girl of his dreams? Well, if you're Vincent DiDonato (Lou Martini, Jr.) in Gino DiIorio and Nancy Bleemer's comedy Centennial Casting playing at Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury, you pretend you are a casting director and pretend to give her an audition for a movie.

Vincent is sifting through the paperwork of Centennial Casting, the tool, machine and car-part casting company left to his care by his recently deceased mother, when he comes across a batch of headshots and resumes. They have been sent to the company by mistake by wannabes thinking the "casting" part of the company title refers to agents who can get them acting roles.  (The disheveled office is created stage center by designer Erik D. Diaz with side sets for a diner and a racetrack.)
Vincent is attracted to the resume of Edie (Elizabeth Meadows Rouse), especially when she lists handicapping race horses as a skill. Vincent loves the track, but he isn't sure how to ask her out for a date. Shop employee Doo Doo (Anthony Patellis) decides to take matters into his own hands and calls Edie saying that Centennial Casting would like her to come for an audition. Insecure Edie isn't sure whether she should go. After all, she just has been offered a teaching job and probably should give up her wild hopes of being an actress, but best friend Michele (Amanda Brooke Lerner) encourages her, gives her advice on wardrobe (costumes by Jimmy Johnasmeyer) and sends Edie to the audition.

Doo Doo takes on the role of Aldo, an Italian director of an unnamed movie to take place at a race track. He enlists the help of slow-witted coworker Carmine (Nicholas Wilder) to play a jockey and to read with Edie during the audition. Edie summons up the courage to overcome the fear she'll encounter the "audition curse" that has plagued her, does the scene and even offers to help Vincent scope out locations at the race track. Once the roles are cast, however, Vincent can't break the mold. As Vincent and Edie spend more time together and fall in love, their happiness is threatened by the truth of Vincent's deception.

Director Semina De Laurentis casts an able ensemble. A quick rapport between them helps make believable relationships that extend back into childhood for Edie and Michele and for Vincent and Doo Doo. Martini gives a layered performance as a man struggling with feelings of loneliness, responsibility and love. Lerner and Patellis are strong foils for the leads and Rouse shows her chops by delivering a wide array of emotions. Wilder is less believable as the wide-eyed boy crying for Vincent's mother -- probably because the part is less believable in the mix.
The story is gentle and predictable with some smile-inducing humor (too many laughs, however, depend on the men's focus on Edie's ample bosom.)

Centennial Casting  runs at Seven Angels, 1 Plank Road, Waterbury, through March 11. The theater offers these special nights:
March 3 Fascia’s Chocolate Night
March 9 Wine and Martini Night
March 11 Sundaes on Sunday

For tickets and performance information visit http://sevenangelstheatre.org/.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced
numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont
Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.”

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway
League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway
run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill
Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/. She
is editor of The award-winning Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com),

She is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Contributing Editor for BroadwayWorld.com, Connecticut theater editor
for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web. Yarger is a book reviewer and writer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented
by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle (awards committee).

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts,
the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

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