Roberta on the Arts
Mario Cantone: Laugh Whore
Home
Contact Roberta
Jazz and Cabaret Corner
On Location with Roberta
In the Galleries: Artists and Photographers
Backstage with the Playwrights and Filmmakers
Classical and Cultural Connections
New CDs
Arts and Education
Upcoming Events
Special Events
Memorable Misadventures
Mailbag
Our Sponsors

Mario Cantone: Laugh Whore

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Mario Cantone: Laugh Whore
www.laughwhore.com
212.239.6200

Written by Mario Cantone
at
Cort Theatre
138 West 48th Street
NY, NY

Directed by Joe Mantello
Original Music by Jerry Dixon
Additional Music by Mario Cantone & Harold Lubin
Original Lyrics by Mario Cantone, Jerry Dixon, & Harold Lubin
Set Design: Robert Brill
Lighting Design: Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer
Sound Design: Tony Meola
Music Director and Orchestrator: Tom Kitt
Arrangements: Jerry Dixon & Tom Kitt
Production Manager: Aurora Productions
Production Stage Manager: William Joseph Barnes
Press: Pete Sanders Group
Marketing: HHC Marketing
Musical Staging: Lisa Leguillou
General Manager: Roy Gabay
Produced in Association with: Jonathan Burkhart



Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 16, 2004

Mario Cantone, one of the gay escorts on Sex and the City (which I admit to not having ever seen), is one of the few stand-up comedian/singer/dancer/raconteurs who could appear solo, seize the stage like a bravura ballet star (Heís in great aerobic shape and dances and gyrates in repetitive and exhausting fashion), and kick the joke momentum up a notch until the audience roars with laughter. I happened to see this performance just one day after reviewing Billy Crystalís 700 Sundays, the other one-man autobiographical comedy with pathos. This was a much different show: a bit of commonality, with long anecdotal analyses of lost parents and extended family, and laughs with love. Cantone created a catharsis, both physically and psychologically challenging, that unleashed deep resentment, anger, loss, and love. He also strayed from the family vignettes to pop culture stand-up style, and no public persona was safe from his intense imagination and implications.

One of the funnier scenes was a take-off on Eve Enslerís plays with assistance from the audience. He also turned into Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland, Lisa-Marie Presley and Elvis, Carol Channing, and many, many more actors, singers, and even a few politicians. The political jokes were too few, perhaps a nod to political inclusion or just to stay in focus, but his wit and wile were so biting and satirical that I longed for more on the news. Cantoneís set, by Robert Brill, has about 100 balls protruding against the rear wall (a metaphor?), and they change color - purple, red, yellow, depending on the song or scenario. Original music by Cantone, Jerry Dixon, and Harold Lubin is performed with verve and vivacity by Cantone, as he jumps across his stage like a panther on Ginseng.

Joe Mantello has directed Laugh Whore, which is divided into two acts, each including three original songs. Tom Kitt is Band Leader with a band of four. Lighting by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer is creative and catchy, as the balls flash or as Cantone is caught in the glow of a spotlight in humor or horror, sorrow or sexiness. The language and action is far raunchier than I expected, but on first glimpse of his packed audience of fans, I knew this would not be chicken soup. It was not even Minestrone. It was Gazpacho.

Cantoneís upbringing in a bruising Italian family in small town, Massachusetts, is replete with fire and adultery, with Thanksgiving and gravy as glue. Our average American family, a bit stretched. Not to unleash the jokes, just imagine true-to-life facial and vocal imitations, smoking and swearing, and then a song and dance. The pop references ranged across time and culture zones, and the audience was eagerly engaged. This is not a show for the kids, but treat yourself to a night of hot humor, and warm up from the cold at the Cort Theatre.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net