Rehearsing for upcoming King’s College Theatre Department’s production of John Patrick Shanley’s romantic comedy, “Italian American Reconciliation” are, seated from left: Dorothy Monforte, Alyx Koehler, Allen Bonk, Ashley Surdovel, and Bruno Walkowiak.
Image by Sheileen Godwin

As their second performance this semester, the King’s College Theatre Department is performing John Patrick Shanley’s “Italian American Reconciliation.”

Shanley is the playwright of last semester’s play, “Doubt.” His work returns to the King’s College theatre this semester with a different kind of performance.

“Italian American Reconciliation” is a crazy romantic comedy set in Little Italy, New York.

It is a folk tale about an absurd scheme to reconcile characters Huey and Janice after their three-year-long divorce. In order to go on with his life, Huey needs one night with Janice to put his marriage behind him. Huey enlists the help of Aldo, who is also fighting to move on in his love life.

Sheileen Godwin, the director of the play, said, “The show is about a romantic situation that Huey has embellished quite a bit. The more times it’s told, he sees it from his point of view and puts himself in very good light.”

Huey is even confused regarding himself.

“In actuality, he thinks he’s a ladies’ man but he doesn’t realize that he’s a mama’s boy,” said Godwin.

The other character telling the story in the play is Aldo. According to Godwin, “He pretty much becomes a hero, he thinks, in his own story.”

Since the play takes place in Little Italy, the characters and set are created accordingly. The characters and their zany personalities came straight out of New York.

Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 9-11 and Nov. 16-18 and at 2 p.m. on Nov. 12 in the George P. Maffei II Theatre.
Image from King’s College Theatre

The set, while inspired by Little Italy, has more of a storybook feel. Designed by Dave Reynolds, who is in charge of lighting and set design, the fantasy set has a bit of a Tuscan appeal.

To set the tone of the play, the theatre will have their original general seating, but groups of four or more can reserve Italian restaurant-themed tables for the performance. The tables are complete with checkered tablecloths, candles, and breadsticks.

“It gets really immersive. Not only is the play itself being presented, but they’re also in a setting of a restaurant without food,” Godwin said.

The idea to use Shanley’s play came to Godwin through a suggestion from a King’s Theatre alumni, Santo Loquasto, who has worked to design the set for the original performance.

“It was never on my radar. At a pre-Tony Awards party, Santo sends me a text that says, I just talked to JP [John Patrick Shanley] and he thinks it’s a really great idea,” Godwin said.

With the support of the original playwright, the theatre department got right to work in producing the play.

Casting started as early as the last production ended. While the theatre group was wrapping up the last weekend of “Frog and Toad” performances earlier in the semester, they were also casting for “Italian American Reconciliation.”

“We don’t have any down time,” Godwin said. “They’re rehearsing one play as they have another one going on.”

While the cast of only five students is composed of many of the same students from the last play, not all of the cast is a returning member.
The student who plays Aldo, senior Bruno Walkowiak, is a newcomer to the King’s Theatre. Godwin chose Walkowiak based on his audition and the certain “look” that fit the idea she had for the character of Aldo.

“Here he is, first time on stage, and it’s going well. It’s nice to have a fresh face on stage,” Godwin said.

Due to the already exaggerated aspect of the play, Godwin said, “the actors need to play it really realistic and the rest takes care of itself because of how the story is told.”

Junior Dorothy Monforte, who plays the character of Aunt May said, “Working on a show like this is a good challenge for actors. This show is driven by dialogue and not by a lot of physical movement. This creates a unique and exciting challenge for actors because all character work has to come from the words, as the only thing you have to bring the story to life is your voice.”

Godwin is very pleased with the small cast and the work they have put into the play so far.

“It’s a great, solid mix of actors and that’s what’s been really nice to work with. I go home and have tons of ideas in my head about what will work. I know right up until we open on Thursday, I’ll be throwing things in the mix just to keep them on their toes,” she said.

Performances of “Italian American Reconciliation” will take place at 7:30 p.m. on November 9-11 and November 16-18, as well as a matinee performance at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 12 in the George P. Maffei II Theatre.

For reservations, email boxoffice@kings.edu or call extension 5825. Tickets are free for all students and $5 each for faculty/staff member and a guest.