A one night only revue put together by Lady Luck Productions in Toronto.
It feels almost churlish to review Hotel Albergo, a single night of entertainment and dining produced by Lady Luck Productions as a revue, benefit, and calling card all wrapped into one. It’s not a professional production, per se, and as a one-night event it’s also not quite intended to be. More than anything, I feel somewhat as though I was invited to review my favorite nephew’s senior play at Rosedale School for the Arts. There’s a lot to applaud about the enthusiasm and the effort, even if the result lacked a certain polish.
My show partner (aka Mr. Husband) and I were welcomed warmly, fed lavishly, and surrounded by people who were clearly having a fabulous time watching their friends, family, and neighbours. The Capitol Event Theatre was packed with entire families, with an audience ranging in age from 3 or 4 well into the eighties and the show kept everyone’s attention from start to finish. Waiters circulated, dancers and a mime kept the ground-floor audience engaged, and music – loud music – played over the sound system.
(The sound system was a problem throughout – it didn’t have enough range to do the singers justice, and it was consistently too loud. Strong notes became a physical experience as much as an auditory one; when the treble maxed out, which it frequently did, I felt my dental work vibrate.)
Writer-producers Patrizia Gianforcaro and Teresa Lombardi – a talented dancer and a fine vocalist, respectively – helm this show in style. Lombardi, as Zia Maria Albergo, sang a collection of Italian standards (I assume, since everyone over 40 was singing along to them) and some English-language pop confections about being Italian (with which everyone under 40 sang along). She’s got a classic jazzy voice and uses it nicely. Gianforcaro, alternately the elderly Nonna and a youthful burlesque dancer, gave the choreography a lot of zip and performed it with style. The third member of the principal trio, operatic tenor Riccardo Ianello, is clearly a local favorite and brings a warm, richness and plenty of acting panache to the role.
The rest of the cast was very charming and perfectly fine, with some extra kudos to Mitchell Jackson who showed a lot of technique and flair in his various turns.
The plot is… somewhat underdeveloped, so instead I’ll characterize this piece as a show that knows it’s a show, with the audience playing the part of the audience, but under different circumstances. As it happens I enjoy shows that give the audience a job to do, and ours was to witness the revitalisation of the Hotel Albergo stage show. Since we never really saw the old, dusty show we mostly understood this through program cards placed on our tables, but that’s all right. We got the picture.
Where this show really succeeded was in the Something For Everyone category. Rarely have I seen a piece that was so interesting to such a wide range of people, such a classic family entertainment. From preschoolers to nonagenarians, the audience was delighted to sing along, sway in their seats, watch their friends fooled and schooled by the clever mime, and try to mimic the robot-like moves of a pop-lock dancer when the show was over. With heaps of cannoli and an Italian flag waving proudly at the front of the hall, everyone in the room finished the evening perfectly delighted.
Hotel Albergo played for the night of 23 September only, at the Capitol Event Theatre.