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Regional Reviews by Fred Sokol

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti
TheatreWorks

Also see Fred's review of Lungs


Antoinette LaVecchia
Say this: Pretty difficult to sit through a couple of hours of I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti (at Hartford's TheaterWorks through July 8th) without an enticing plate of pasta or at the very least a promise for one at the end of the show. Actress Antoinette LaVecchia, playing Giulia, literally cooks up a batch, from scratch, for those sitting at tables next to the thrust stage and, believe me, those patrons are the lucky ones! The production itself zips along after intermission while the beginning portion could use an edit. Throughout, the warm, personable LaVecchia stars.

Directed by Rob Ruggiero, this show is adapted from Giulia Melucci's memoir by Connecticut-based creative writer Jacques Lamarre. Lamarre, in real life, wears many hats. He has been involved with media, press and marketing at various regional theaters, currently works as Director of Communications and Special projects at The Mark Twain House and Museum, and is a theater critic, too. His scripting seems precise and LaVecchia adds flair and pizzazz as she brings breezy, colloquial, familiar dialogue to a friendly audience.

As she kneads dough, boils water, and carries wine to 10 or so fortunate theatergoers sitting close by, the actress tells of her failed relationships. Relaxed and treating all of us as if we are guests in her home, Giulia speaks of her first boyfriend, a drinker. Next comes Ethan, in the Jeff Goldblum mold. "He had that take care of me vibe," she explains. Third, she thinks of Marcus who is older and wrinkled and claims to be a cartoonist for The New Yorker. Meanwhile, the actress is dealing, equally, with antipasto, salad and sauce—without losing a beat with either the preparation or contact with her audience. Nifty multi-tasking. All of the actual and performance burners are highly functional.

LaVecchia was born in Italy and spent much of her youth growing up in Connecticut. Eventually studying theater at NYU, she performed in A View From the Bridge on Broadway and many times both Off-Broadway and at regionals. She is proficient with accents and impersonations. These are utilized to maximize comic potential as the current play progresses.

The first portion of Spaghetti catches and engages at first words, but midway through the initial act the show begins to drag—just a tad. Call the first portion fine and recognizable but not quite sharp enough to be categorized as exceptional. The second act, complete with Charles Nelson Reilly-like repeated references, sparkles. The TheaterWorks production invites people to watch, laugh, and have fun.

Giulia has bad luck with many a man but, evidently, she is both skillful and comfortable when it comes to fashioning a meal. Setting the scene with a contemporary and bright kitchen is designer John Coyne. LaVecchia is easily liked and, through her revelatory humor, it is natural to laugh and empathize with her. She is lively, expressive, and ready to share her tales of misfortune with the opposite sex. Giulia speaks her mind, and her language which Lamarre furnishes (working from the memoir) is not censored.

TheaterWorks makes a wise decision to run the play with an intermission. LaVecchia is pretty much flawless and the break gives her a moment to catch her breath and switch wardrobe. Shortening the first act would facilitate a tighter and crisper presentation during the early going. The moments would become as immediate as they frequently are later, when Spaghetti is absolutely delicious.

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti continues at TheaterWorks in Hartford through July 8th. For tickets, call (860) 527-7838 or visit www.theaterworkshartford.org.


Photo: Lanny Nagler


Also see the current theatre schedule for Connecticut & Beyond

- Fred Sokol



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