CARMELINA a charming and robust hit at 42nd Street Moon

Carmelina (Caroline Altman) is wooed by café owner Vittorio (Bill Farhner)

CARMELINA: Musical. Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner.  Music by Burton Lane.
Book by Alan Jay Lerner & Joseph Stein. 42nd Street Moon, Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson Street, San Francisco, CA. (415) 255-8207 or www.42ndstmoon.org.

CARMELINA a charming and robust hit at 42nd Street Moon

When you first enter the Eureka Theatre you are greeted by an attractive colorful set stretching across the entire stage and there is no doubt that you are being transported to sunny Italy. That’s where we meet the townspeople of the village of San Forino, somewhere between Sorrento and Naples and the year is 1962. It just happens that on an April day18 years before the US Army liberated that village from the Fascists . . . a time fondly remembered by our heroine Carmelina.

Starting with a rousing opening number by Manzoni (Bill Olson) the village mayor, guitar plucking Father Tomasso  ( Michael Doppe)and young fisherman Roberto (Stewart Kramar) the evening is filled with song, dance, humor and a touch of pathos creating a winning show that this reviewer highly recommends.

The original story began with the hit movie, Buena Sera, Mrs. Campbell that starred Gina Lollobrigida as an Italian woman who told three different men that each was the father of her daughter.  The original musical by Alan Jay Lerner, Burton Lane and Joseph Stein had an ignoble run of 17 performances even though the score won a Tony nomination. You will recognize the story line as the smash hit by the ABBA singing group that became the world stage favorite Mamma Mia and in 2008 the movie with Meryl Streep.

The show has never been seen outside New York since its initial run, marking this 42nd Street production as both its first post-Broadway full production and its West Coast premiere. Artistic Director Greg MacKellan has rounded up a top-notch cast of  past favorites with a sprinkling of ‘newbies’ who work together as an ensemble and yet have individual traits giving  the show a fresh energetic look.

Caroline Altman, as Carmelina has the right touch of libidinousness to match her apparent pious nature as the widow (“A Widow’s Prayer”) of 2ndLieutenant Campbell the father (??) of her daughter Gia (Emily Kristen Morris). It just happens that there were three (count them, three) young U.S. soldiers whom she couldn’t resist in 1944. The telling of the tale in song (“Someone in April”) to her trusted servant Rosa (Darlene Popovic) has tricky lyrics and Popovic’s double take responses will tickle your funny-bone. The ingenious scheme she devised to maintain her dignity among the natives of San Forino is about to unravel when all three of the April misadventure are to arrive . Rosa reluctantly joins in to the

Carmelina’s (Caroline Altman) scheming past amazes
her maid Rosa (Darlene Popovic)

deception making.

Enter the self-proclaimed lothario Vittorio (Bill Fahrner) who has women from A to Z at his beck and call but one look at Carmelina and he is willing to forsake all others. Or does he really? Fahrner’s entrance with “It’s Time for Love”, exuding his magnetic charm, fantastic stage presence added to his pitch perfect tenor voice is a show stopper only minutes into the show. The charisma between Fahrner and Altman is palpable beyond the footlights and their marvelous voices entwine in their duets of “Why Him” and “Love Before Breakfast.”

Carmelina Campbell (Caroline Altman, middle) has been
collecting child support from three American GIs – but
which is the real father of her daughter:
Carleton (Rudy Guerrero), Walt (Will Springhorn Jr.), or
Steve (Trevor Faust Marcom)

The Yankee Doodles who come to town (Will Springhorn, Jr., Trevor Faust Marcome and Rudy Guerrero) do yeoman duty in song and dance adding to the evening’s humor and touch of pathos. They have been assigned the charming “One More Walk Around the Garden” and “The Image of Me” as they admire Gia. Beautiful ingénue Emily Kristen Morris is a stunner and stirs the audience with her solo “All That He’d Want of Me.”

The running time is two hours and twenty minutes with intermission but it will seem much shorter while you are having fun. MacKellan paces the evening beautifully and is aided by Dave Dobrusky’s musical direction.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com