On Stage or Orso?

PlayBlog   On Stage or Orso?
There's a real "Mickey-Judy-let's-put-on-a-show" exuberance percolating over at the theatre district Italian eatery Orso these days where, at night and matinee times, three of its staff are missing.

To name the not-Names-yet: general manager Kevin Albert, bartender Cheryl Orsini and waiter Simon MacLean. During this bewitching time, all three can be found where their hearts are — on stage, three blocks south from the 46th Street restaurant, performing S.N. Behrman's Biography at Theatre 3 at the Mint, through Dec. 19.

They're producing it, too — so they’ve made it happen for them. "We don't just talk about it — we did it," Orsini said. "That's the difference, I think — a large difference."

In the star spot originally occupied in 1932 by Ina Claire — playing a celeb portrait-painter who is talked into a tell-all that has her swains sweating — is Tracy Shayne, who has logged up 33 years on Broadway in only four shows (A Chorus Line, Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera and Chicago).

The staffers from Orso form a flying wedge around her. Albert and MacLean are the painter's old boyfriends (a Dixiecrat and a movie star, respectively), and Orsini is a Teutonic maid. Orso customers may have noticed, although Orsini said they practice their accents on themselves rather than patrons: "The rest of the staff that isn't involved in this probably are sick of the German accent and they're sick of the Southern accent."

Did the trio get special dispensation regarding their shifts? "Put it this way," she offered, "if I'm not here doing the play, I am there working. And vice versa. Like, today I worked a full shift and came right here. Tomorrow, it should be the opposite. Probably some of the people come here to the theatre, if they ate at Orso's, I would be serving them drinks later on tonight. Basically, what's so lovely about where we work, the rest of the staff — because it's such a small staff — we help each other out. We trade shifts around. It's the way of the theatre. You have to have your survival job."

— Harry Haun

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