Regional Reviews: Phoenix
Created by Jay Falzone, Stephen Smith, and Dan Lavender, and having spawned several spin-off sequels, Cooking With the Calamari Sisters has a fairly simple plot and premise. Brooklyn born, raised and based Delphine and Carmela Calamari have a New York public access TV cooking show and they have come to Phoenix to share their love of cooking with their fans. Throughout the fast-paced 90-minute show the two sisters will squabble, sing, swear and satiate the audience with the wonders of Italian cuisine as they prepare a three course Italian dinner. They'll also bring up several audience members to help with their cooking demonstration or to serve as contestants in a fast-paced contest.
The real fun of the show is that Carmela and Delphine are portrayed by Smith and Falzone in drag. They are both gifted comics with impeccable improvisation skills and also deliver some zany and inspired musical numbers. Falzone is the frumpier and sensible Delphine while Smith is the over-sexed and shameless Carmela. They achieve hilarious portrayals of these larger than life sisters who are constantly at odds with each other.
Since this is a touring production, there isn't much of a set, which is a slight detriment to the show, but fortunately the loud and colorful costumes and a few zany props provide plenty of inspiration throughout.
Falzone, Smith and Lavender have crafted a fun conceit of a show with two lovable characters and plenty of wacky dialogue and fun spoofy lyrics to well-known Italian songs. Having two of the creators play the sisters for this local stop on the tour makes this a laugh out loud funny affair and a rip roaring good time of a show.
A word of warning: if you get pulled onto the stage and aren't Italian or Catholic be prepared for some gentle ribbing from the sisters.
Cooking with the Calamari Sisters runs through January 28th, 2016, at the Herberger Theater Center, 222 E. Monroe Street in Phoenix. Tickets can be purchased by calling 602-252-8497 or at herbergertheater.org. For more information on the tour, visit thecalamarisisters.com.