The Whitefire Theatre Solofest Presents “Here’s What I’m Saying: Life Lessons From An Italian Mama”

Written and Performed by Toni Perrotta.  Directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson.

Aa part of the Whitefire Theatre Solofest 2020

If there had to be a sound to describe how this reviewer enjoyed this one-woman show at Solofest it would be, “Ba-da-Bing,  Ba-da-Bing,” fantastic or should I say, “Fantastico!”

Toni Perrotta takes what could have been a look at a trite stereotype of the Italian mother and effortlessly melds emotion, great anecdotes, humor and fully realized characters without any of the usual melodramatic pathos, describing some terrible times in her life as an aspiring actor, single mom and transplant New Yorker.  Kudos to Jessica Lynn Johnson for directing Toni and also to Brandon Loeser for making the graphics, videos, etc., blend in and move her stories along.

Toni makes you feel right at home beginning her show with a monologue in which she immediately draws the audience unconsciously into an immersive experience better than any virtual reality because you are actually living in Toni’s virtual reality. Her perfectly timed lesson vignettes like “I’m Too Pretty for Bullsh*t!” and characters like Judy-Do-Nothing, Nana and Drunk Lady at the Bar weave her decades of waitressing and showbiz, including touring with Tony & Tina’s Wedding.  Toni takes us from the 1970s to the 1990s where she punctuates her master comedic touch in the 1990s rap video, “White Trash.”

Toni takes you for a ride you will enjoy, as you laugh, cry  and relate it all to your own family. But the most important moment is at the end of her show, when Toni is  writing an email to her son on his birthday, her vulnerability is natural, visceral and beautiful.  It is only halfway through her speech that you realize that her son has died but he’s very much alive in her memory of his favorite foods she makes for a birthday he will not ever have. This moment is what makes Toni much more than a talented actor and comedian with decades of experience. She blossoms into that rare species in showbiz a bonafide artist!

Do not miss this show, if you get the chance to see it!

The Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros
Author: Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros is a British writer and filmmaker living In Los Angeles.