Italian comic Ennio Marchetto's unique brand of theatre madness will run through Jan. 2 at Los Angeles' Geffen Playhouse. Performances began Nov. 30.
His one-person tour-de-force, Ennio: Starring Ennio Marchetto, features the comic in all his quick-change glory, playing 150-plus characters during the course of the evening. His madcap performance utilizes ingenious paper costumes, music and lighting in transforming him from the Spice Girls into the Three Tenors, from Celine Dion into the Titanic, from Tiny Winky into Cher.
Writing in the New York Times, Peter Marks described Ennio this way: "Imagine an evening with Roberto Benigni doing impressions of Stevie Wonder, Edith Piaf, Fidel Castro, Marilyn Monroe, Barbra Streisand and the Pope. Now imagine him impersonating them all in a lip-synching show, with paper headdress, costume and props affixed to his scalp and torso. The star is an Italian actor who takes inspiration from commedia dell'arte and Walt Disney. It's an absolute hoot."
Born and raised in Venice, Italy, next door to Carlo Goldoni's house, Ennio began developing costumes for the traditional Venice Carnivale while still in his teens. He quickly became known and began developing more outrageous costumes each year. He studied at the Scuola Dell'Arte, the preparatory school for Accademia Dell'Arte, while working in his father's coffee machine repair shop. It was while daydreaming as he dismantled an espresso machine that the idea to create his show began.
In 1988, Ennio took part in Bologna's "La Zanzara D'Oro," a festival of new comics where he won first prize. From there, he began to work in clubs, theatres and television all around Italy. In 1990 he was the hit of the Edinburgh Festival, where his show was a popular and critical success. Since then, his zany and irreverent take on the world's cultural icons has delighted audiences around the world.Geffen Playhouse is located at 10886 Le Cone Ave. in Westwood. For tickets and information call (310) 208-5454 or visit www.geffenplayhouse.com. Ennio is on line at http://www.enniomarchetto.com.
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent