Commedia tonight

By STEVE VINEBERG  |  April 21, 2009

The cast are game and energetic. They all have their moments (I loved Wooddell's blissed-out response to a kiss), but Latessa and DeVito are especially good. You can see and hear DeVito's famous dad in every one of her scenes; her deadpan boisterousness must make him proud. Latessa, the veteran performer best known as Harvey Fierstein's husband in the Broadway musical Hairspray, has a Borscht Belt spirit and the kind of timing a young comic would kill for. Commedia thrives on cultural stereotyping — the actors would land in a new town, spend the day soaking up local references and gossip, and flatter their audience by sending up the other places they'd passed through. Latessa handles this kind of broad putdown humor masterfully; it's commedia by way of the burlesque house. DuBois's skillful staging takes advantage of all the corners supplied by Alexander Dodge's nifty, forced-perspective set, and Rui Rita's lighting design achieves moments of real beauty. The show isn't perfect, but it's rarely less than pleasurable.

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