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Theatre West Presents a World Premiere
MOOSE ON THE LOOSE
by Dina Morrone
A Comedy about an Italian Family
and a Canadian Moose
(Loosely based on true events)
Tom Badal, Jemma Bosch, John Cygan, Johnny Ferretti, Laura James, Eric Allan Kramer, Jack Kutcher, Michael Lorre, Nick McDow, Constance Mellors, Dina Morrone, Corinne Shor, and Grant Venable
NOW PLAYING THRU
JULY 24, 2011
Fri & Sat 8pm. Sun 2pm
Directed by Peter Flood
Produced by Stephen E. Rivkin and Zeke Rettman
Theatre West Executive Director - John Gallogly
Produced in association with
Me and My Big Mouth Productions
Call (323) 851-7977
Buy Tickets On Line
“…A GREAT NIGHT AT THE THEATRE that I would gladly recommend to all.”
Randall Gray, YAHOO ON-LINE
Read an interview with "Moose"playwright Dina Morrone. page 1 | page 2
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Check Out The Official "Moose On The Loose" Web Site TheMoosePlay.com
“…PACKS A DELIGHTFUL PUNCH with its extended family comedy.”
Sarah Taylor Ellis, EDGE ON THE NET
Los Angeles Times - Philip Brandes
What better way to introduce us to a small blue-collar community in northern Ontario province than with a talking moose sporting an absurdly antlered cap and Great White North accent? In the frozen climes of Way Up Bay, the moose’s monologues are only slightly goofier than the hot-headed family of Italian immigrants whose efforts to hold a reunion dinner are the focus of “Moose on the Loose” at Theatre West.
Inspired by a true story about a wild moose wandering through the backyards of her hometown, Dina Morrone’s amiable new workshop-crafted comedy wears its metaphors unabashedly on its semi-autobiographical sleeve. “We’re all displaced,” says Morrone through her onstage alter ego, Gina, recognizing in the wayward moose’s predicament her transplanted family’s severed cultural roots.
Gina arrives back home in full retreat from her big city marketing career, only one of the life choices that put her at odds with her parents’ traditional values. Complications arise when Gina’s father, Giuseppe (John Cygan), an unemployed construction worker, decides to restore his honor as the family provider by hunting down the moose (Tom Badal, alternating with Eric Allan Kramer), despite the latter’s status as a legally protected species. A surreal conversation between hunter and prey provides a rather charming exchange of outcast perspectives. Giuseppe’s bark is worse than his bite — he’s too much of a softy to actually load his hunting rifle — but still lands him in hot water with the local police.
Morrone’s serviceable dialogue forgoes laugh lines for more situational humor capturing the tensions of large Italian families. Among the play’s dozen roles, some afford little payoff for their stage time — a smaller cast could potentially delve deeper. Still, this gentle character-based ensemble piece achieves its unpretentious ambitions, with Peter Flood’s direction setting an appropriately breezy tone.
SoCal.com - Jennifer Fordyce
For playwright Dina Morrone, the question - “How did Italians from Calabria end up in an icy cold, snowy city in Northern Ontario, Canada?” – was the impetuous that gave birth to her comical and endearing play Moose on the Loose. “I was on the telephone with my mother who speaks with a thick Italian accent,” says Dina Morrone. “And we were discussing some natural disaster that had occurred in Los Angeles… and my mother said to me, ‘It’s cold and we have a lot of snow but really the most that can happen here is that a moose wanders out of the bush.’” And what a fun and heart-felt moose it turned out to be under the direction of Peter Flood.
Actor John Cygan gave a commanding performance as Daddy Giuseppe, an Italian man who proceeds to hunt for a moose on the loose in town. The Moose, performed with an endearing quality by Tom Badal, talks Giuseppe out of his in-town hunt, “it’s illegal, eh?”, while grazing around the stage wearing enormous antlers created by Creative Effects, Inc. Giuseppe eventually finds himself in jail after a humorous series of events and the shame of having to face his entire family, from parents to grandson, awaiting his release just outside in the small waiting area.
The greatest feat of the evening was the role of Maria performed on book by Connie Mellors standing in for Mary Garripoli who became suddenly ill shortly before the performance. Mellors’ performance demonstrated how polished her skills are as an actor and what is possible when one puts their time into their craft. Of course it did help that she comes from a 100% Italian heritage, but that is beside the point. Well done, Mellors!
Upcoming productions at Theatre West in North Hollywood include a special one night only musical reading of Something for the Boys on June 19th and Edward Albee’s comedy Seascape starring Paul Gunning, Arden Teresa Lewis, Alan Schack and Kristin Wiegand starting on September 9th, 2011.
Yahoo On Line - Randall Gray
Written by Dina Morrone, Moose on the Loose is a story about one woman's family and all their eccentricities. Imagine what might happen when a family emigrates from Italy to Canada, tries to fit in, but doesn't want too. Now, add a Moose loose in the city, down the street to be exact, and the chaos that ensues in a small town over such an event. Now add the hilarious antics of individual personalities that we all know and love about our various families, and you have Moose on the Loose. For a better understanding, perhaps think of the show as a sort of Big Fat Greek Wedding style production and you likely will understand what you will see.
Marvelous performances are given by both Tom Badal, portraying a police chief and a Moose, as well as John Cygan, portraying the father of the family, Giuseppe. A stellar performance was given by Connie Mellors, who only opening night took the script in hand to play the family mother, Maria. This because the actress intended for the role originally fell ill and was unable to appear. Though she was on book, this lady proved that she more than has the stuff of a highly trained and successful performer.
Theatre West is a wonderful theatre with very comfortable seating, a delightful staging area, and ample free parking right across the street. The set for this production was ingeniously designed and perfect for the space. The script, though there is little plot outside of just having a few laughs, was interesting and worth the time. All in all, a great night at the theatre that I would gladly recommend to all.
The Tolucan Times - Pat Taylor
A zany Italian comedy that kept the audience laughing, while exploring each character’s passions and deep sense of “familia”… this one is a lot of fun! Taking place in 2001 in a tiny, freezing cold town in Canada, called “Way up Bay,” the Tappinos migrated here decades ago, in search of a better life. Here, we meet parents, grandparents and four adult kids, co-existing and verbally sparring… with passion, love and hilarity! Let’s face it… Italians are volatile and their families are deeply emotionally connected! Written with a lot of heart and “pisano pizzazz,” by Dina Morrone (from true life events), you will laughingly relate to this funny and heartfelt family story. Under the skillful and fast paced direction of Peter Flood, an accomplished cast of twelve takes us on a fun-filled trip into the psyche of the Italian family lifestyle. Gina (a spunky and high-spirited Morrone) returns home to take a year off from her high profile career. She harbors a secretive reason for this choice. The day she arrives, a gigantic “loose moose” saunters into the neighborhood (a toweringly terrific Eric Allan Kramer), which has everyone in an uproar. Gina’s volatile parents (John Cygan and Constance Mellors) and quirky grandparents (Jack Kutcher and Laura James) riotously squabble for family dominance. A quartet of brilliantly bonkers… perfectly timed performances! As Gina’s siblings (a variety of “nutcakes”) feverishly interact… It’s like she never left home! Each of them have “issues,” and squabble for their beliefs (All well played, by Johnny Ferretti, Nick McDow and Corinne Shor). Rounding out the nutty cast nicely is: Michael Lorre, Grant Venable and Jemma Bosch. A highly effective technical team places us at the heart of the story, and into the lives of this loud and lovingly expressive family. Congrats to: Jeff G. Rack (set design), Celina Yun (costumes), Yancey Dunham (lighting) and David Johnson (sound). For a heartwarming peek at “Familia–Italian style,” you must meet the passionate Tappino clan!
5 OUT OF 5 STARS
If you love ethnic comedies like My Big Fat Greek Wedding or more specifically comedies about Italians such as Buon Natale or Moonstruck, you will love Moose on the Loose, now getting a world premiere engagement at Theatre West. It boasts comedically keen direction and a cast as tightly knit as the Italian clan they are portraying. Adding to the appeal is the setting. These Italians live smack dab in the hinterlands of Canada, so if the Italian jokes aren't enough to whet your appetite, the Canadian jabs surely will. Politically correct? Hardly! Hysterically funny? You bet!
With a meager plot, Moose on the Loose is pretty much a character study. Like most Italian clans this family tries desperately to hold on to all of its members via traditional values - la famiglia - but the younger, hipper siblings are less likely to heed their parents' (John Cygan and Constance Mellors) or Noni's (Jack Kutcher and Laura James) advice. There are two sons Bruno (Johnny Ferretti) and Joseph (Nick McDow) and two daughters Gina (Dina Morrone, also playwright) and Carmela (Corinne Shor). Carmela, the married daughter with a mousy husband Darryl (Michael Lorre) and son Timothy (Grant Venable), is an immeasurable whiner and Gina, a marketing expert who travels around the globe, is the black sheep of the family. She's come home for a year solely because she's pregnant. Unmarried and pregnant in a traditional Italian family? Unheard of! The boys are not without their problems either. Joseph wants to be a nurse and couch potato Bruno introduces a new girlfriend (Jemma Bosch), who is of Native American descent. Warning: Never bring home a possible mate who is not Italian! Like all families, these folks sit around daily and argue and get on each other's nerves while they're waiting for the meatballs, so these new issues only intensify the confrontations. Italians seem to thrive on them! Add to this portrait a moose on the loose (Eric Allan Kramer, who also plays the blase chief of police), wandering around the neighborhood backyards and scaring residents. An alien to these parts, the moose is not unlike the Italians who first came to Ontario because they could not find work in their own country. They are emotionally lost, out of place and may never adjust. High time for a change!
The entire cast under Peter Flood's finely paced direction are terrific. As in most ethnic shows, the grandparents tear up the scenery, so Kutcher and James cannot be overlooked as standouts, but equally wonderful are Venable as the precocious grandson whose imitation of his Nono's accent is a killer and the deadpan Kramer (sharing the role with Tom Badal) as the moose. Did I mention that the moose serves as narrator and opens and closes the piece? This artifice of a human playing the animal makes little sense, but when you think about it, why not? The moose's uncanny appearance is about as undesired as Gina's announcement or Bruno's girlfriend. It interferes with the status quo and demands attention. Unusually delightful comic device!
Moose on the Loose will be a huge hit for Theatre West, so rush to get tickets! Its cry for family unity commands respect, and besides, it's good for plenty of laughs.
A Wise and Funny, Feel-good Play.
Based "loosely" on a true story, according to playwright Dina Marrone who also has the role of the oldest daughter Gina, "Moose on the Loose" is a delightful and insightful comedy about family, about culture clashes, and about Old World tradition versus the "modern way" of thinking and doing things.
The play is light on plot, with no more complication than a daughter's surprise visit and the father being waylaid for a mild infraction, but it is nevertheless rich in character.
"Character-driven comedy," according to director Peter Flood, "is where behavior is the story and every character is given time to be seen, heard and remembered." By the time "Moose on the Loose" ends, each character will seem like family to you...even the moose.
The story is about an immigrant Italian family living in the far, far north of Ontario, Canada (the show actually opens with the recorded singing of O, Canada) where the most exciting thing on TV is the Weather Channel.
Giuseppe and Maria Tappino (played by John Cygan and Connie Mellors) live in a modest house with two of their four adult children, Bruno and Joseph (Johnny Ferretti, Nick McDow), and Maria's scrappy and staunchly traditional parents, Rodolfo and Pina (Jack Kutcher, Laura James), who add a certain "oregano" to family dynamics.
Later, the oldest daughter Gina will arrive, as will her sister, Carmela (Corinne Shor) with her Canadian husband Darryl (Michael Lorre), and their young son Timothy (Grant Venable).
Finally we will meet Bruno's Native American girlfriend, Honabigi (Jemma Bosch) who is as nonchalant about her heritage in this strongly Italian family, as Darryl is uptight about his. Eventually...well, at the end...they will all congregate around the dinner table in true Italian style.(Actress 4th from the right is Mary Garripoli as "Maria.")
But first, we meet the Moose.
We're told that a moose can stand seven feet at the shoulder, weigh close to a ton, and have a six foot antler span. Tom Badal (in the performance I saw; it's double cast) isn't quite that massive, but he projects the image wonderfully. Tall and stout and wearing a fur coat and ear-muffed cap with an impressive set of antlers, he moves onto center-front stage with lumbering dignity that befits his "kind."
In a deep, rumbling voice and in simple phrases, he greets the audience, tells a few mild animal jokes, and introduces each of the characters in the play. As he returns to the "bush" the lights come up on the Tappino home, and you can almost smell the bread and lasagna baking.
From the Weather Channel, which Bruno watches constantly, we learn that a blizzard is on the way. From Maria, we learn that Gina is coming home from her world travels for a surprise visit...and staying for a year. A year! The two older generations argue about her life and all the reasons she may have for coming home (none of which is accurate, which we will later discover).
In the midst of the "discussion" a bottle of brandy, which grandpa had been adding to his coffee gets spilled onto Giuseppe's lap. He has time only to brush it off before a phone call alerts them to a moose that has wandered into their neighbor's yard and gotten stuck. Giuseppe grabs coat, hat, and rifle and goes out to "shoot a moose." While the family complains loudly we hear a distant siren.
In a rare quiet moment, the wayward Gina arrives, freezing and complaining about air travel. Bruno listens (from his spot in front of the TV) and commiserates. In a candid confession, she reveals her secret. Oh, dear!
Outside, Giuseppe encounters our moose who says he wouldn't like to be shot. Giuseppe begins a woeful soliloquy about taxes and work and providing for his family as the moose slips away. Only to return as a police chief. Somehow, Badal's impressive size and sincere demeanor work perfectly in the town's sole law officer. A gun in city limits and the smell of liquor (remember the brandy?) force the gentle chief to take Giuseppe in. A further problem lands him in jail.
Who is his "one call" to? Soon the whole brood is packed into the waiting room of the police station, where, amid blistering banter and accusations they begin to learn the truth about family, solidarity, acceptance (believe me, Gina's confession stretches tradition further than any in Fiddler on the Roof ), and love.
"Moose on the Loose" is a heart-warming, feel good play that will leave you smiling and ready to watch it again.
John Cygan and Connie Mellors give stellar performances, especially Mellors who had to step in only a few days before opening to replace a seriously ill actress. Despite her being "on book" which was hardly noticeable after a few minutes, she easily carried the action, the accent, and the heart of the role. Cygan's Giuseppe was at once blustery and tender, a narrow line which he walked perfectly.
Laura James and Jack Kutcher's roles as the Old World grandparents were completely believable to anyone who knows an older couple who've been married many, many years. The bickering, the interrupting, the totally Italian (and hilarious) hand gesturing... well done!
Catch the "Moose" before he gets away!
Cathy Wayne, NoHoArtsDistrict.com
Way Up Bay, a remote little town in Ontario, Canada, is the setting for the wonderfully funny and entertaining World Premiere of the new comedy, MOOSE ON THE LOOSE, at Theatre West. Loosely based on true events, Dina Morrone has written a witty, warmhearted story giving us a “moose-eye” view into Italian-American family experiences and traditions.
The Moose (superbly played by Tom Badal) is our moderator, and introduces us to the Tappinos, a large and loving Italian family who immigrated to the U.S. from Calabria, Italy many years ago to make a better life for themselves. Daddy Giuseppe (John Cygan) has now lost his job and is worried that his paternal instincts have been compromised. It’s illegal to kill Moose in Canada, but when a Moose wanders into the Tappinos neighbors’ yard, Giuseppe sets out to prove he is still able to take care of his family…even if it means killing the Moose. I’m not giving anything away here. Of course he doesn’t do it. It wouldn’t be a family play, now would it? But he is arrested, and the entire family goes to the jail to lend its love and support. In the midst of all this, daughter Gina returns to this frozen tundra from her professional career in the big city. She has big news that will bring her back home to Way Up Bay for at least the next year.
The large, well-cast group of actors present funny, thoroughly Italian, and tender performances. Several times during the play, the entire 12 member cast in on stage at one time, and the best part is that we don’t feel like we are watching a play. We feel like a “member” of the family. The OUTSTANDINGLY talented cast is John Cygan as Daddy Giuseppe, Understudy Constance Mellors as Mama Maria, Johnny Ferretti as Bruno, Nick McDow as Joseph, Laura James as Grandma Pina, Jack Kutcher as Grandpa Rodolfo, Dina Morrone as Gina, Corinne Shor as Carmela, Michael Lorre as Darryl, Grant Venable as Timothy, Jemma Bosch as Honabigi and of course Tom Badal as the Moose/Chief. Each member of the ensemble is terrific.
Peter Flood has beautifully and skillfully directed this funny play. Excellent Production Stage Managing by Roger Cruz, Set Design by Jeff G. Rack, Lighting Design by Yancey Dunham, Sound Design by David Johnson and Costume Design by Celina Yun. All excellent!
La Bella Figura (An Italian Way of Life) is the essence of MOOSE ON THE LOOSE. It is fun, funny, and thoroughly enjoyable. We celebrate the Italian immigrant, its tenacity, strength and love. With streams of “Oh Canada” echoing in our ears we – Salute the Moose. Salute the Family. Ciao!
Read The Reviews
“Dina Morrone’s amiable new workshop-crafted comedy wears its metaphors unabashedly on its semi-autobiographical sleeve.” - Philip Brandes, LA Times
“...this gentle character-based ensemble piece achieves its unpretentious ambitions, with Peter Flood’s direction setting an appropriately breezy tone.” - Philip Brandes, LA Times
"Moose on the Loose, the new HILARIOUS and family friendly comedy written and performed by Dina Morrone along with a cast of twelve, on stage at Theatre West."
“…a heartfelt intergenerational family comedy given an IMPRESSIVE premiere production at Theatre West.”
Sarah Taylor Ellis, EDGE ON THE NET
“…what a FUN AND HEART-FELT moose it turned out to be…”
Jennifer Fordyce, SOCAL.COM
“Morrone’s play is loaded with comic misunderstandings arising from a dense web of cultural backgrounds, languages, and accents…”
Sarah Taylo Ellisr, EDGE ON THE NET
“... a pleasantly old-fashioned family comedy, affectionately but keenly observed, and deftly directed by Peter Flood.”
Neal Weaver, LA WEEKLY
“Actor John Cygan gave A COMMANDING PERFORMANCE…”
Jennifer Fordyce, SOCAL.COM
“A STELLAR PERFORMANCE was given by Connie Mellors…”
Randall Gray, YAHOO ON-LINE
“Peter Flood’s direction amps up the physical hilarity that ensues when such a large, boisterous family collides in a small space.” - Sarah Taylor Ellis, EDGE ON THE NET
“…the brilliantly caustic great-grandmother Pina (Laura James) delivers some especially stinging one-liners.”- Sarah Taylor Ellis, EDGE ON THE NET
“Marvelous performances are given by both Tom Badal as well as John Cygan.” - Randall Gray, YAHOO ON-LINE
“A zany Italian comedy that kept the audience laughing, while exploring each character’s passions and deep sense of “familia”… this one is a lot of fun!” - Pat Taylor, TOLUCAN TIMES
“For a heartwarming peek at “Familia–Italian style,” you must meet the passionate Tappino clan!”- Pat Taylor, TOLUCAN TIMES
“Under the skillful and fast paced direction of Peter Flood, an accomplished cast of twelve takes us on a fun-filled trip into the psyche of the Italian family lifestyle.” - Pat Taylor, TOLUCAN TIMES
“…written with a lot of heart and “pisano pizzazz,” by Dina Morrone you will laughingly relate to this funny and heartfelt family story.”- Pat Taylor, TOLUCAN TIMES
“…a quartet of brilliantly bonkers... perfectly timed performances!” - Pat Taylor, TOLUCAN TIMES
“…a toweringly terrific Eric Allan Kramer.”- Pat Taylor, TOLUCAN TIMES
“As in most ethnic shows, the grandparents tear up the scenery, so Kutcher and James cannot be overlooked as standouts.” - Don Grigware blog
“If you love ethnic comedies like My Big Fat Greek Wedding or more specifically comedies about Italians such as Buon Natale or Moonstruck, you will love Moose on the Loose.” - Don Grigware blog
“It boasts comedically keen direction and a cast as tightly knit as the Italian clan they are portraying.” - Don Grigware blog
“Politically correct? Hardly! Hysterically funny? You bet!”- Don Grigware blog
“Laura James and Jack Kutcher's roles as the Old World grandparents were completely believable to anyone who knows an older couple who've been married many, many years. The bickering, the interrupting, the totally Italian (and hilarious) hand gesturing... well done!” - Jackie Houchin's Reviews
"(Jack Kutcher, Laura James), who add a certain 'oregano to family dynamics." - Jackie Houchin's Reviews
"Moose on the Loose" is a heart-warming, feel good play that will leave you smiling and ready to watch it again. - Jackie Houchin's Reviews
“A Wise and Funny, Feel-good Play.” - Jackie Houchin's Reviews
“Catch the "Moose" before he gets away!”- Jackie Houchin's Reviews
“…very fun, family-oriented comedy about displaced people.” - Robert Buranello, ITALO-AMERICANO
“…Laura James as nonna ‘Pina’ is a pistol!” - Robert Buranello, ITALO-AMERICANO
“Dina Morrone’s play shines with wit, verve, and good natured double entandres…for a very satisfying comedy.” - Robert Buranello, ITALO-AMERICANO
“If you’re looking for Sopranos references, gumbas and guidos, fuhgeddaboudit! If, on the other hand, you are seeking a warm, heart-felt portrayal of the immigrant story with poignant implications that will make you laugh and cry, in almost the same breath, you must spend the evening with the Tappino family and the loose moose where it’s not just another day in Way Up Bay,” eh… -- Robert Buranello, ITALO-AMERICANO
“John Cygan is terrific as the father of four deeply steeped in Italian tradition and not willing to accept most of his children’s ideas. If Archie Bunker had been Italian, he would have been Giuseppe Tappino.”- Jose Ruiz, REVIEWPLAYS.COM
“You want to make people laugh? Bring together elements that don’t belong together and give them a situation that doesn’t fit and you got a winner.”- Jose Ruiz, REVIEWPLAYS.COM
“The large, well-cast group of actors present funny, thoroughly Italian, and tender performances.” - Cathy Wayne, NOHOArtsDistrict.com
“...the best part is that we don’t feel like we are watching a play. We feel like a “member” of the family.” - Cathy Wayne, NOHOArtsDistrict.com
“It is fun, funny, and thoroughly enjoyable.” - Cathy Wayne, NOHOArtsDistrict.com