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On Theater: A gleeful 'Servant' at GWC

March 21, 2012|By Tom Titus
  • From left, Alex Vazquez, Tony Torrico and Raven Aurora Hild apprear in "The Servant of Two Masters," directed by Tom Amen at Golden West College.
From left, Alex Vazquez, Tony Torrico and Raven Aurora… (Audrey Ellen Curtis )

Golden West College's rollicking comedy "The Servant of Two Masters" is credited to playwright Carlo Goldoni and adapters-translators Jeffrey Hatcher and Paolo Emilio Landi, but director Tom Amen's name should be included among the other creative artists for his work on a semi-modernization of the commedia classic.

Amen, in structuring the piece as a modern-day staging of an 18th century comedy, has added chunks of modern dialogue in the opening segment, as well as laugh-inducing asides during the production itself. He's also dispensed with the traditional masks, allowing his actors' expressions to convey volumes.

The result is a thoroughly enjoyable evening that should elicit laughter even from those who might have caught Vanguard University's more traditional production of the show a few weeks ago in Costa Mesa. Imagine the Marx Brothers in Venice of the late 1700s and you've got a fairly good idea of what to expect here.

Better yet, imagine Chico Marx pulling off a scam by becoming, as the title states, the servant of two masters. Tony Torrico exhibits particularly accurate Marxmanship in the title role of an avaricious (and perennially hungry) con artist doing double duty for two demanding masters — one of whom actually is a mistress, though her "disguise" is quite transparent.

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Veteran character actor Michael Bielitz, a frequent occupant of the GWC stage, revels in the traditional Pantalone role of an elder citizen who has promised his daughter to one suitor and finds himself faced with another. Bielitz's acting skills, at times almost improvisational, propel the early moments of the show.

The young lovers — Devon Sucaro and Lauren Cicerone — play their heart-rending plight for all its melodramatic value, particularly Cicerone, who overplays her part like an actress in old "The Carol Burnett Show" sketches. Roberto Ferreras oils his way around the stage as the young man's scheming lawyer father.

As the disguised "master," whose flowing red hair isn't even shielded by a hat, Raven Aurora Hild renders a stately demeanor, while Alex Vazquez as the other employer is more down to earth. Rio Magdaleno functions effectively as a restaurant proprietor.

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