(Cast of IDENTITA left to right: Marion Araujo, Joan End, Joe Picchetti, Charles Hanel)
Provided by UWM Slovenian Arts Program
Waukesha Freeman Review of IDENTITA
I am not an historian. My knowledge of geography is also
quite paltry. However, the present offering at Windfall Theatre still intrigued
me. The story is universal; we can see the same forces and conflicts going on
here in many parts of the world in some form ad infinitum.
The play by Louise Zamparutti, a local playwright who teaches at
UWM, is entitled “Identita,” and identity is its subject. Set in a
small village on the border between Slovenia and Italy, it traces a family torn
apart by WWII and the various allegiances espoused by different members in that
family. The story is told through the voice of a young American of
Italian heritage who returns to the nation of his birth after 20 years to
attend his father’s funeral. He encounters many surprises and discovers a
past that he was totally unaware of.
We have many expressions around the subject of identity. Someone
is trying to “find himself.” “He’s not himself today.” “You’re not the person I
thought you were.” One’s identity consists of one’s genetic heritage, one’s
knowledge and experiences and talents, one’s self-concept. It is formed over
time and is changed and shaped as we live our lives. And yet, I often hear
people say that “People don’t change; they are who they are.” To simplify,
perhaps one’s identity is that unique mix that constitutes each person’s
Upon his arrival, Joe Picchetti, very well cast as Josh, the
young American, comes upon a small coffee shop, run by Julia. Marion
Araujo, with her soulful face and serene wisdom, is an oasis for Josh as he
encounters the turmoil among his relatives. He returns to her for solace and
understanding whenever he runs into an obstacle on his journey.
During WWII, most of the countries invaded by the Nazis formed
resistance units. In many instances, they were poorly organized and not
very effective. As is true in any diverse group, there were disagreements as to
how to handle the Germans. Resist or comply? Which group to join?
How to best resist?
Josh meets his great-aunt Vida and her husband Aldo, a couple of
modest means and fierce loyalties to the past Italian resistance movement, and
his great- uncle Fabio, Vida’s brother, and his snobby, pushy wife Paola, a
couple of substantial means and some bitter feelings toward Vida and
Aldo. Josh is caught between them at times as he tries to gather material
about his father and return to America unscathed.
What struck me most about this story is how quickly we rigidify,
how judgmental and unforgiving and divisive we become, adopting the attitude of
“If you disagree with me, you must be wrong.” This lack of humility, this
lack of effort to try to understand differences probably accounts for many a
war. It almost makes me despair that humans will ever begin to live together
Christine Horgen is powerful as Vida; Charles Hanel, a very
lovable Aldo. Joan End did a good job of alienating us in her portrayal of
Paola; her husband Fabio, played by Gregory Valentine, made me feel drained and
resigned when the demands of life become too much for him. Overall, all the
characters were quite well developed and portrayed. Each elicited our
pity and/or sympathy. The cellist, Alicia Storin, provided beautiful
transitional music between scenes.
Check it out. It will lead to a fruitful discussion.
“Identita,” directed by Carol Zippel, runs two more weekends in The Village
Church on Juneau and Edison (one block east of Water Street) in
Milwaukee. Windfall is always worth a visit.
L to R: Shayne Steliga, Ben George, Jason Will, Howard Goldstein, Ericka Wade, Bill Jackson
Bill Jackson as Reverend Chester Kimmich and Shayne Steliga as Donaldo Calderon in STOREFRONT CHURCH
Windfall Theatre continues its 21st Season with STOREFRONT CHURCH by John Patrick Shanley Pulitzer Prize, Academy and Tony Award-winning playwright John Patrick Shanley's sharply affecting comedy for our timestells the tale of a Bronx Borough President forced by the mortgage crisis into a confrontation with a local minister causing them both to confront a question of conscience that faces us all: What is the relationship between spiritual experience and social action?
STOREFRONT CHURCH by John Patrick Shanley May 2 - 17 (Fri. 5/2, Sat. 5/3, Fri. 5/9, Sat. 5/10, Mon. 5/12, Thu. 5/15, Fri. 5/16, Sat. 5/17)
FEATURING Ben George, Howard Goldstein, Bill Jackson, Shayne Steliga, Ericka Wade, Jason Will DIRECTION Carol Zippel STAGE MANAGEMENT Mohammad N. ElBsat
All Windfall performances are at 8pm At Village Church Arts, 130 E. Juneau Tickets $20.00 Box Office: 414-332-3963 www.WindfallTheatre.com BROWN PAPER TICKETS ADVANCE PURCHASE $20.00 TICKETS AT THE DOOR $23.00 Box Office: 414-332-3963
The Cast of Windfall Theatre's THE PETRIFIED FOREST
Heat up your winter at Windfall Theatre's production of Robert Sherwood's THE PETRIFIED FOREST a play that is at once funny, romantic, political, violent and ironically resonant today as it was in 1934 when it opened on Broadway and captured the restless mood of the country. It was a huge hit and became a popular film. It tells the tale of hostages held by gangster Duke Mantee in an isolated gas station/diner in the Arizona desert. Their stories revolve around two restless souls: Alan Squier, a drifter searching for meaning to his existence and Gabrielle Maples, the diner's waitress who dreams of escaping to see the world.
FEATURING: Randall T. Anderson, Mark Boergers, Cleary Breunig,
Marcee Doherty-Elst, Mohammad N. ElBsat, Christopher Elst, Thom Gravelle,
Amanda J. Hull, Robert W.C. Kennedy, Tom Marks, Joe Picchetti
DIRECTION: Carol Zippel
STAGE MANAGEMENT: Dan Austin
COSTUMES: Kathy Smith
LIGHTING: Kevin Czarnota
Windfall Theatre Presents THE PETRIFIED FOREST by Robert Sherwood February 14 - March 1 (2/14, 2/15, 2/21, 2/22, 2/24, 2/27, 2/28, 3/1)
Village Church Arts
130 E. Juneau Avenue
All performances at 8pm
BOX OFFICE: 332-3963 www.windfalltheatre.com
Robert Sherwood is remembered for his stage plays, movie
scripts and film reviews.He is also the
winner of four Pulitzer prizes. “The Petrified Forest” and “Abe Lincoln in
Illinois” are two of his most famous plays, and “The Best Years of Our Lives”
often makes the list of the 100 best films ever made.
It is always satisfying to encounter a classic play again,
and Windfall is not afraid to take the chance of unearthing a good one. I remember
their production of Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” in 2010, proving again that
scripts written many years ago still have relevance with human nature being the
“The Petrified Forest” takes place during the Great
Depression in a small café in Arizona. The National Park by the same name is
alluded to as a parallel to the lives of all the characters. Their dreams have
been aborted, and except for the ending, when there is a glimmer of hope for
one of the characters, the mood is dark and the prospects, stagnant.
Three generations of family members run the Black Mesa
Bar-B-Q Gas Station/Diner in the Arizona desert – Gramps, Jason and Gabby
Maple.Gramps wallows in his memories;
Jason, in his glory days in WWI and his involvement in the American Legion, and
Daughter Gabby in her dreams of going to France to re-unite with her mother and
pursue art. Each of these characters is well developed as are several of the
patrons who drop in for a beer, a bite
and a little comraderie.
Boze, a former football star, works in the Café and is in
hot pursuit of Gabby, who has bigger dreams. The arrival of another visitor,
Alan Squier, changes the dynamic completely.His inglorious failure as a gigolo, a husband and a would-be writer,
colors his perception of himself and the world.His allusion to T. S. Eliot’s “Hollow Men” pretty much sums up his
dismal philosophy. He is smart, handsome, and disillusioned and depressed.BUT, his conversation with Gabby elicits a
few humane sparks in him. The contrast between Boze and Alan is stark and
creates some tension and some suspense.
A buildup of drama occurs when Duke Mantee (a character
modeled after Dillinger) arrives with two of his henchmen and holds all the
characters hostage. They have hi-jacked the car of the wealthy Mr. and Mrs.
Chisholm, so these two characters and their chauffeur Joseph have also joined
the trembling assemblage.
Several surprises are in store for us as this encounter
proceeds.People’s characters are often
revealed in crises, and that is certainly true here. Even Dillinger is seen as
a human being, not just a bad guy.
Well paced and directed by Carol Zippel, “The Petrified
Forest” holds our interest throughout.The standouts in a well chosen cast include Joe Picchetti as the cynical
Squier, Amanda J. Hull as the tough-minded but innocent Gabby, Tom Marks as the
fearless Gramp Maple, and Robert W. C. Kennedy as the slippery Duke Mantee. Marcee Doherty Elst is memorable in her cameo
role when she unearths some of her long-hidden frustrations.
This production runs through March 1 with showings on
February 21, 22, 24, 27, 28 and March 1.There are no Sunday performances because Windfall’s Theatre is the
Village Church at 130 E. Juneau in Milwaukee.Call 414-332-3963 or visit their website at www.windfalltheatre.comIf you’ve never attended a performance at
Windfall, I recommend that you do if you’re looking for quality theatre in an
intimate space at a reasonable price. The fact that they’ve been around since
1992 says a lot in a city where good theatre abounds.
Julie McHale, Review(Waukesha Freeman and Bay View Compass)
Stephen Sondheim, considered by many as the ultimate
composer of American musical theater, first gained notice when he wrote the
lyrics for Bernstein’s score for “West Side Story.” Sondheim has a very unique
musical style and is an exceptionally clever lyricist as well.One doesn’t want to miss a word, so vocalists
have to articulate very carefully when delivering his compositions.
Windfall Theatre celebrates its 20th anniversary
with a stunning production of “A Little Night Music.”One can hardly believe the assemblage of
talent that Carol Zippel gathered for this show.Sondheim himself would probably revel in this
showing of his musical on its 40th anniversary.
Set in Sweden in the early 1900’s, it is based on an Ingmar
Bergman film, “Smiles of a Summer Night.” There definitely are smiles in this
show.It swirls along with graceful
dancing, sexual intrigue, amid the witty wisdom of Madame Armfeldt, the elder
of the tribe, so deliciously portrayed by Michelle Waide.
The opening overture introduces us to five strong vocalists
– Matt Wickey, Kristin Pagenkopf, Marcee Doherty-Elst, Isaac Brotzman, and
Heather Reynolds – who set the tone of the whole production.We already sense, under the musical direction
of Christopher Wszalek, that we are in for a melodic banquet. This quintet of
voices appears regularly to provide transitions and emphasize main turning
points in the story.
The plot revolves around Fredrik Egerman, masterfully
rendered by the incomparable David Flores, his second wife, the still innocent
Anne, nicely depicted by the lovely vocalist Emily Pogorelc, his former lover
and actor Desiree, a complex mix of flamboyance and confusion, cleverly
captured by Tamara Martinsek, and another unforgettable couple, the blustering
Count Malcolm (Christopher Elst) and his acerbic wife Charlotte (Laura
Monagle), both of whom cross paths with Fredrik via Desiree.
Two other characters provide supreme delight – Doug Clemons
as Henrik, Fredrick’s tortured son, and the flirty, dirty maid Petra,
hilariously rendered by the inimitable Liz Mistele.Alison Pogorelc does a good job as Desiree’s
daughter and companion to her grandmother, Madame Armfeldt.
Few of Sondheim’s songs enjoy a life beyond his musicals,
with the exception of “Send in the Clowns,” which provides the moving climax of
this show when Fredrik and Desiree realize that they may finally get their
timing right. There are many numbers, however, that are vital to the context of
the story and are beautifully delivered by these gifted vocalists.
Several of these include, “Later” by Henrik; “Soon” by
Fredrick, Anne and Henrik; “In Praise of Women” by Carl-Magnus Malcolm and
“Every Day a Little Death” by Anne and Charlotte. The ensemble number “A
Weekend in the Country”is especially well done, emphasizing in its lyrics
Sondheim’s supreme sense of irony.Mention must also be made of Petra’s strong rendering of “The Miller’s
Son.”Mistele has such a mischievous
quality about her that one has to smile just anticipating her next move.
I can’t rave enough about this powerful show.It already has made my list of “The Best of
2013” and it’s only May.I can’t imagine
another show that will match this one.Because Windfall Theatre has its home in the Village Church at 130 E.
Juneau in Milwaukee, there are no performances on Sunday. The remaining dates
include May 10, 11, 16, 17, and 18. Call 414-332-3963 or visit www.WindfallTheatre.com before all
the seats are taken. This is a small theater and a great production directed by
the multi-talented Carol Zippel.