Quote of the Day: …the original invitation from Peter (Rothstein) was to take this thing and bust it open and try to make it funny. Steve Epp in an interview in the program notes about creating Johnny Skeeky; Or, The Remedy for Everything with creative partner Bradley Greenwald. They took Puccini’s opera Gianni Schicchi, using the score and ideas, and placed them in current times on board a yacht off the coast of Miami, Florida. They gave the patriarch Bobo (Steven Epp) a backstory, and prologue in music and story, and surrounded him with ridiculous characters and a sweet love story. Also, they explored the friendship between Bobo and Johnny Skeeky (Bradley Greenwald) and deathbed forgiveness and change of heart. It’s delightful. 

Steven Epp as Bobo and Bradley Greenwald as Johnny Skeeky, at Theater Latte’ Da, thru 7/7/24. Photo: Dan Norman

First of all, you can’t go wrong with such a gorgeous score. Puccini’s music is divine, and the singers they have on stage make it soar to the rafters. Strong vocals from gorgeous voices, and very funny staging and schtick. Add the creative genius of Epp and Greenwald and you have an absolutely divine evening (or afternoon) of high quality entertainment. We laughed so many times during this production, along with goose-bumpy good moments, and a few sweet ones, too. 

Erin Capello, James Ramlet, Elizabeth Hawkinson, Jay Albright, Ben Dutcher, Steven Epp in Johnny Skeeky at Theater Latte’ Da, thru 7/7/24. Photo: Dan Norman

Bobo is dying. He’s lying in a hospital bed on board his yacht off the coast of Miami, Florida. His hospice nurse Laurie (Anna Hashizume) is at his side, bringing him back whenever his heart stops. Playing Puccini helps him remain calm, a Shasta soda gives him refreshment, and his family gives him much stress and distraction. His grandson Ricky (Felix Aguilar Tomlinson) is the one family member who isn’t money hungry. He falls for Nurse Laurie, and their interaction, and songs, are beautiful and sweet. 

Felix Aguilar Tomlinson, Steven Epp, Anna Hashizume in Johnny Skeeky at Theater Latte’ Da, thru 7/7/24. Photo: Dan Norman

Bobo’s children are all flamboyant and self-absorbed. His son Dennis (Jay Albright) would really like to inherit the yacht. His daughters Verna (Norah Long), Fresca (Elizabeth Hawkinson) and Buffy (Erin Capello) want whatever money can buy, including a nose job (Fresca). Their husbands Waldo (James Ramlet) and Gary (Benjamin Dutcher) are mostly along for the ride. So many of their scenes are of them moving in as one, hovering over their dying patriarch and fantasizing about what they’ll do with all his money. But, where is the will? And, what does it say?

Elizabeth Hawkinson, James Ramlet, Norah Long, Ben Dutcher, Erin Capello, Jay Albright in Johnny Skeeky at Theater Latte’ Da, thru 7/7/24. Photo: Dan Norman

This show also has many surprises, including some quick changes and duality. It took us a minute to sort out a few – Wait, he was just there, and now he’s here? And, which one is that? And, oh, I see what they’re doing here. Doors, windows, falling paintings, and a frozen marlin – all things that kept us engaged for the full hour and forty minutes (no intermission to break up the flow).

Norah Long, Erin Capello, Ben Dutcher, Bradley Greenwald, James Ramlet, Elizabeth Hawkinson, Jay Alrbright in Johnny Skeeky at Theater Latte’ Da, thru 7/7/24. Photo: Dan Norman

I am always fascinated by the creative process and jump at a chance to experience new work. I love what Epp and Greenwald did with this classic opera that they co-wrote and directed. They used all the beauty of Puccini’s score and the bones of it’s story and gave it a whimsical twist. Johnny Skeeky is filled with colorful characters and extremely talented performers. The set, by Benjamin Olsen, is a bright, elegant room on a ship with all the necessary doors and windows to offer those great theatrical surprises, and humorous moments. Sonja Berlovitz designed the vibrant costumes. Lighting design by Karin Olson. Sound design by Kevin Springer. Props by Amy Reddy, and Wig, Hair, and Makeup design by Emma Gustafson. Music Direction by Sonja Thompson of an excellent orchestra behind the stage. 

Go, check out this wonderful production of Johnny Skeeky; Or, The Remedy for Everything at Theater Latté Da through July 7, 2024. You’ll be glad you did.

Go. Create. Inspire!

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