by Nick Christophers
In one of the most famous cities in the world where some of the most renowned performances have taken place lands a play that will leave you breathless. What I mean by breathless, I mean gasping for air after laughing uncontrollably for 2 hours. The Off Broadway production of "Cannoli Happen Here" has hit its mark for the third year in a row. It packs the laughs and raw truth of growing up in every ethnic home across New York.
Even though the premise is centered on growing up Italian each skit interjects aspects of various ethnic groups in New York. The cast is top notch and the producers are just as talented. The production by "Pasta & Pigskin Productions" has managed to attract people of all walks of life. The diversity of not only the cast but the story lines is pure creativity and talent.
The play was written and directed by Joseph A. Mileto and co-produced by William Lappe. Joseph is now on his 4th production in three years of this play. Joe with his co-producer William Lappe (who happens to be an ex-detective) are gearing up to work on some new projects. The new project is entitled "Guido Monologues", Evolution of the Italian American" which is coming in the fall.
Cannoli Happen Here captures every detail of Italian youth and the trials and tribulations they face daily. From the "Gangster Jeopardy" to "More Dinner Guests" you are taken on a ride down memory lane to say the least. The cast is full of raw talent that is for sure to make headlines in the near future.
The diversity in the cast is evident from African-American actress Diarra Clemons to Leah Vanessa Bachar who is a mix of ethnicities. Even though they did not grow up Italian they still were able to relate. "Every one in the cast helps me along when things are foreign to me. Like in one of my lines where I mention gummare, I had no idea what that meant," added Diarra Clemons.
Then there are more experienced actors like Robert Ruvolo who has already been in four shows Joe Mileto has produced. "There is a lot of improv going on that adds some flavor to the play. I'm originally from Brooklyn so a lot that goes on, I can relate to."
Nicole Tonti is another very talented actress who has added a lot of variety to the cast. "I enjoy every minute that I have the opportunity to be apart of such a great cast and producer."
Katherine Messa a stunning looking actress played an integral part in the play since the roles she played were so close to home. "The diner scene was the most challenging with all the drama going on and trying to keep a straight face with all the overlapping humor."
In attendance at the premiere was veteran actor Artie Pasquale who played Burt Gevasi in the HBO smash hit "Sopranos". " I was very impressed with the talent and the amount of energy these young actors/actress possess. This is where it all starts. I even began here way back when. I think the play is a lot of fun."
"This type of venue is where it all begins," added Artie.
Presently, Artie has worked on one film titled a Sicilian Tale which was filmed in Philedelphia. He also did some work on a film titled "When in Rome" with Danny DeVito and Don Johnson. In addition he is involved in two other New York based productions called "My Brothers Keeper" and "Anyone's Son".
Coming from Long Island was Lisa Marie Willis who is farther from the city lifestyle as you can get. Yet she still managed to pull off her role perfectly. Coming from an Italian background as well helped her manage her demanding roles. Lisa Marie has already done some extra film work and commercials.
"I think every actor/actress has impressed me and made me grow as a better actress," commented Lisa Marie.
The play did a two week run and sold out every night. But Joe Mileto is not stopping there. "We are gearing up for our next production entitled "Guido Monologues" which will be out in the fall of 2008. We will not only be in New York but looking to do shows in New Orleans as well as Los Angeles."
Some of the same cast members will be on hand for the next showcase. It will just be another wild humorous ride for the production company "Pasta & Pigskin" so keep a look out in the fall of 2008.