Anyone who remembers The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee from a few seasons ago isn’t likely to forget Charlito “Chip” Tolentino.
The actor who played him in the 2012 Western Canada Theatre production, Farren Timoteo, is back in town, this time with a host of characters of his own creation for a world premiere of local creation. Made in Italy presents an entire Italian-Canadian family sitting around the dinner table at Pavilion Theatre, all of them played by the Edmonton-based actor and playwright.
“He is absolutely hilarious and we’ve been waiting for a chance to get him back here,” said Daryl Cloran, who directs Timoteo in Made In Italy. “He’s an incredible actor, an incredible singer, an incredible dancer.”
He’ll need to be on his toes with all three skills starting next week. The comedy one-hander launches Western Canada Theatre’s fall season, Sept. 8-24, at the Pavilion.
“My family’s Italian on my father’s side and I know these characters pretty intimately,” Timoteo said during rehearsal. “This is kind of a blend, a bit fiction, a bit nonfiction, but the actual spirit of this, a family immigrating to Alberta, a young Italian growing up in a place where there aren’t many Italians, is pretty close to home for me. It comes from my house. I’ve had dinner with these people.”
The play is Italian-made in name only. It was actually made in Kamloops and Edmonton, “workshopped” in recent months by Timoteo and Cloran. The dancing alone must have taken some choreographing — there are 30 different pieces during the play, a blend of Italian and 1970s disco tunes.
Francesco, the teen in the family, is a fish out of water, as Cloran describes him. He finds himself caught between two worlds, the traditional Italian culture and the contemporary North American culture as represented by the disco music. Francesco seizes on the modern music as his path to stardom.
Cloran, who’s notching his final weeks in Kamloops before moving on to Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre, is taking the show with him for a run there after Kamloops.