“13 Things about Ed Carpolotti” at 59E 59 Theaters

December 18, 2012 | Off-Broadway | Tags:
“13 Things about Ed Carpolotti” (Closed December 30, 2012)
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Barry Kleinbort
Based on the Play by Jeffrey Hatcher
Directed by Barry Kleinbort
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

The stars of Barry Kleinbort’s “13 Things about Ed Carpolotti are Virginia Carpolotti, her intriguing daydreams about her deceased husband Ed, and her imaginary piano-playing and singing friend. These three stars are better known as, respectfully, Penny Fuller, the book by Barry Kleinbort, and pianist Paul Greenwood.

Honored many times for her Broadway, Regional Theatre, and film performances, Penny Fuller steps onto the stage of 59E59 Theater C and embraces the role of Virginia Carpolotti with transcendent perspicacity. This gifted and graced performer convinces the audience Virginia is alone and talking to herself in Bray Barton the home where she spent forty years with her recently deceased husband Ed. As she struggles simply to remember where she and Ed first met, her life begins to unravel as a variety of “loan sharks” begin demanding the repayment of loans Ed solicited and Virginia unwittingly signed for during the years of their marriage.

Banker Bob O’Klock, business associate Dino DiSprebio, and brother-in-law Frank are all demanding repayment of Ed’s loans and have frozen Virginia’s assests, promised a “vist” to collect, and suggested she forfeit her home for her nephew Randy and his about-to-be-bride Courtney. As Virginia rehearses this impending doom, she provides the exposition needed by the audience in scrumptious song and skillfully delivered soliloquy.

In a cleverly staged moment, Virginia approaches the pianist the audience can see only because Virginia can see him in her imagination and, as he is playing “We’re Gonna Be Fine,” asks, “I don’t remember who originally sang this. Any idea?” The repartee between imagined pianist and Virginia is brilliant and results in a charming duet between Penny Fuller and musical director Paul Greenwood.

The entire new musical exudes this same charm as it reaches its climax late in the new musical’s rising action. The resolution and denouement involve a message from Ed which resolves all of Virginia’s financial worries and answers her question about where they met on February 22nd, 1955. Oh, Virginia’s best friend Tootie Vaughn and Joy (at the office) have hatched the plot that rescues Virginia from financial ruin but the reader must attend one of the remaining performances to discover the plan Ed hatched before his death.

Although Mr. Kleinbort’s music is here, for the most part unremarkable, it handily serves the gorgeous twists and turns of his distinguished book and this delectable tale of love, loss, and redemption.