Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Julie from Staten Island (Studio Theater, Theater Row)

by Leah
engaging storytelling • intimate • well-written and well-performed • quick and satisfying

BOTTOM LINE: Great show to see before drinks with your best friend.

So I want to give a quick shout-out to this great one man show I saw earlier this year called Julie from Staten Island. The show will be remounted on the 25th of each month through the summer at the Studio Theater at Theater Row. Written and performed by Julio (pronounced Julie-O), comedian and raconteur extraordinaire Vincent Gambuto, it follows his life through his childhood and early adulthood. The show is peppered with vivid characters from Julio's family (you've probably had dinner with them, too) and various social circles.

At first, what struck me most about the show was, of course, the inherent comedy of coming of age, fish out of water and worlds colliding. Julio jokes his way through his working class Staten Island neighborhood, his undergrad studies at Harvard, and his introduction into gay culture. He talks about his love of words fairly early on in the show, and the wit and dexterity with which he handles his potentially heavy-handed themes is a testament to what that love can do.

I left the theater laughing, but looking back on it what has stayed with me most is the honesty and intimacy of the tale he tells. Yes, of course, the show takes place in a theater, but it feels like the kind of interaction you would have in a living room or over a pint of beer. His performance style is always organic and simple, even when he steps into any one of the myriad characters that weave their way through his life, and the show is all the more engaging and moving for it.

The next performance is on Saturday, April 25th, 7pm. I say take the sibling you commiserated most with or that no-frills friend who prefers conversation to confetti.

(Julie from Staten Island is approximately 80 minutes long with no intermission and runs the 25th of every month at the studio theater at Theater Row in Times Square. For tickets check out www.juliovincent.com or call 212-279-4200. Call 917-841-7219 for group ticket rates and discounts.)

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