By John Quinn
Now that another Academy Award season is over and that pale period piece “The King’s Speech” has gobbled up the goodies, I find myself missing the good old days – 1972, to be exact. Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather” – now there’s a flick for the ages! It has everything! Gore! Guns! Sex! Spaghetti! Brando refusing the Academy Award and sending some wanna-be from Central Casting in tribal dress to protest Hollywood’s oppression of Native Americans! Oh, the drama!
When they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, I trotted up to Andiamo Novi Theatre to see “The Godfadda Workout,” which is a workout indeed. A lone actor, the incomparable Seth Isler, takes on 37 roles to deliver memorable scenes from the iconic film. He is a whole gymnastic team of feats, vaulting desks, tables and portable bars as if they were pommel horses, all to be in position to deliver the next character’s line. The manic pace, lightening costume changes, gimmicked set and props make for some great slapstick. Yet we don’t sense parody here, only homage. Isler is a father of this demon child and clearly in love with its heritage.
Our hapless hero is the victim of overexposure to the Corleone clan’s soap opera and finds his words and actions sub-referencing the film even at the most inappropriate times. It’s sort of like Tourette’s syndrome for the Cosa Nostra. His way out is provided by Don Vito himself, now merely a disembodied voice from the rafters. If Isler can flesh out the memorable scenes to the Don’s satisfaction all by his lonesome, the “spell” will be broken.
Well, not entirely alone. Isler is aided by a stage crew hereby dubbed the “Fedora Five” and a dresser who, it appears, really has her hands full – of soggy costumes. This show is full of sight gags, and timing is everything. We’re not disappointed. The audience will indulge the slow, choreographed set changes if they realize that those down times are Isler’s only chance to do mundane things like change costumes and breathe.
The performance is slick, witty and thoroughly entertaining. I wish I could remember more of the film, but my memory sleeps with the fishes. Clearly the audience was picking up bits I was missing, yet I found myself watching not so much WHAT was done, but HOW it was done. And it’s a tour-de-force.
Allow me to mention that the show was opened by the musical talents of tenor Aaron Caruso who sang some Italian thingy called “Nessun Dorma” from Touring Dot. While he never did explain who Dot is or where she’s touring, a little Puccini was welcome for the top of the evening. You can catch Mr. Caruso’s act (and with a name like Caruso it’s GOTTA be good!) at Andiamo in Warren this October.
‘The Godfadda Workout’
Andiamo Novi Theatre, 42705 Grand River Ave., Novi. Wednesday-Sunday through March 20. $30-$35 for show only, $79.95-$89.95 per couple for dinner & show. 248-348-4448. http://www.andiamonovitheatre.com