Theatre review: Made in Italy

Farren Timoteo in the world premiere of “Made in Italy” at the Western Canada Theatre. (Murray Mitchell/Western Canada Theatre)

Farren Timoteo in the world premiere of “Made in Italy” at the Western Canada Theatre. (Murray Mitchell/Western Canada Theatre)

A surprising and intimate one-man show, Made in Italy was written by and stars Farren Timoteo. Drawing from his own and his family’s past to astonishing effect, this musical comedy premieres on stage for Western Canada Theatre’s first production of the season. Opening with an old Italian man breaking the fourth wall, he invites the audience to be a part of the story. Unique in a timely but old fashioned sense, this is one play you do not want to miss.

Starring in each of its widely different and personality-driven roles, Timoteo walks a surprising line of sincerity with each character, from men to women, young to old. He transitions between characters, often not with a costume change, but with the tone in his voice, his posture or a pair of glasses.

Timoteo was the main brilliance of the production and as an audience member, you get to see his large Italian family through one man, while still connecting with each character in different ways. Walking into this production, I was skeptical of its one-man-can-do-it-all attitude, yet after leaving the theatre, I understood that this story could not have been told in any other way.

The production lets us take a peek into the strange, but strong, bond between Francesco and his father. His father who was one of 22 children and was born in a small Italian town. He moved to Canada so his family could have a better life. Francesco struggles with being an immigrant to the country and he constantly has to deal with prejudice at school. He learns to find the balance between being the Italian singing church boy that his father loves and Frank Martin, a singer with disco fever trying to make a name for himself. Francesco’s indecision between the two styles of music compels his character through the duration of the play as Timoteo belts beautifully with his lovely voice.

The minimalist set played a huge role in the production with the big wooden table practically acting as a character. All of the props played a small but integral role and had a deeper symbolic meaning. This was all enhanced by the bevy of technical wizardry created with the lighting and sound design.

This musical comedy is a story about life and is a must see for any theatregoer, even if it does feel a little long in the tooth before intermission break. The show will run until Sept. 24, 2016 at the Pavilion Theatre with a 7:30 p.m. show time on weekdays and a 8 p.m. show on weekends. Student price for tickets starts at $27 and adult admission starts at $33.