Arts Club Theatre’s Made in Italy hits the Sid for one night

March 11, 2024

Meet Francesco Mantini, a second-generation Italian teen struggling to find his place in Jasper, Alberta. Inspired by icons Rocky Balboa and John Travolta, he reinvents himself as Frank Martin: crooner and ladies’ man.

The Sid Williams Theatre Society presents this coming-of-age Arts Club Theatre musical on March 28, as part of their Blue Circle Series. As buoyant and bubbly as a glass of prosecco, Made in Italy is a celebration of music, food and family.
Creator, writer and star Farren Timoteo says the play was inspired by his culture and experiences of his family, especially his father.

“I love being Italian. It’s not just defined by great art, architecture, food, is defined by the joyful experience of coming together to share stories, laugh and fill our souls – and stomachs – in the presence of good company,” says Timoteo. “I wanted to make a theatrical experience that felt like dinner with me and my family – a bunch of eccentric, passionate, artful and loving human beings.”

Originally staged in 2016 by the Western Canada Theatre, this is a remount of the Arts Club’s successful 2022 production at the Granville Island Stage. Throughout its evolution, this one-man show has been met with great acclaim and sold-out houses, a testament to Timoteo’s unwavering commitment to captivating audiences with a dynamic blend of storytelling, music and dance.

“I’ve always considered myself something of an apologetic theatre creator. I’m desperately worried that an audience, even for a second, will be bored. So we pull out all the stops. There’s a workout montage! There’s a scene at a dinner table with an entire family played by one person…at one point I’ll disco dance on that dinner table! We’ve done everything we can to make this a surprising and spectacular show from beginning to end.”

In the past 15 years, the Edmonton-based playwright, actor and director has showcased his talent in more than 30 productions spanning theatres across Western Canada. His portrayal of 26 different characters in Made in Italy earned him both a Jessie Award in Vancouver and a Sterling Award in Edmonton.

While he’s quick to point out the show is hilarious, it’s also heartfelt.

“Director Daryl Cloran and I worked really hard to finesse a piece of theatre that tells the truth about the human experience, especially as an immigrant, while creating something challenging to perform and entertaining for audiences.”

The show has been performed more than 200 times across the country since 2016. “The response has always been ecstatic…we’re a very grateful team.”

A vital part of that team is set designer Cory Sincennes. Timoteo notes that Sincennes’ gorgeous contributions truly enhance the play. “He’s made a set that perfectly encapsulates the traditional Italian dining room, complete with my own family photos, that also stealthily doubles as a nightclub, a village in Italy, a high school, a Fiat 500 and so much more.

“As well, Daniel Curalli [who plays the lead role at certain stops on the tour] is an important part of the Made in Italy team. He’s a fantastic performer who brings his great talent and own unique spin to all the characters in the Mantini family.”

Love to laugh? Love good music? Open to learning a few Italian swear words? Come check out Made in Italy – bada bing, bada boom!