A very Italian, dysfunctional family has moved into the neighborhood, and things will never be the same. No Name Players, fresh from their gore-fest musical, “Evil Dead – the Musical,” are back with the “The Sisters Sorella,” a live situation comedy, complete with commercials. It’s performed in front of a live studio audience, it’s just not filmed. It’s a madcap romp of an evening.
A greeting card author Raffie, short for Raphaela (Maggie Carr), and her slacker sister, Ernie, short for Ernestine (Julianne Avolio), dread a visit from their uptight, older sister Cetta (pronounced Chetta), short for Concetta, (Tressa Glover). The visit goes horribly awry. The two roomies can’t wait to jettison their big sis back to her husband, but somehow, against their better judgment, they keep extending her stay. Lucky for us! Because the comedic tension between the three of them sizzles with energy.
But wait! There’s more. Longtime Pittsburgh improvisational troupe Hustlebot provides filmed commercial spots (Trust me; you’ll never be able to look at, or hear, Sarah McLaughlin without laughing).
One of the founding members of the Hustlebot troupe, John Feightner, and singing improviser Connor McCanlus provide additional, live interstitial material as well. When Feightner is presented with a strange contraption, the audience gets to decide what the device does. Then, he hawks the product; riffing on the item, its function, and its moving parts. His huckster is slick, oily, brash, yet lovable and befuddled. It’s a joy to watch him figure it out as he goes along.
McCanlus plays the king of the Jingle. The audience yells out the name of some types of commonly sold commercial products, ranging from dog food to tampons, and McCanlus sings about them. He’s able to pull it off with equal parts lunacy and brilliance.
And now, back to our regularly scheduled program. When we last left the sisters, Raffi and Ernie learn a terrible secret from Cetta. Though, it’s not as horrible as their insane guesses. Cetta finally opens up to them in one of the few poignant moments of the production. Almost everything is played for laughs, and they are plentiful, but these sitcom sisters are more than caricature. Glover is especially adept at mining the softer, more vulnerable moments.
Avolio is the mistress of the funny face. She is also the most awkward. She chews the sparsely decorated scenery. It’s a joy to watch her face contort and twist.
Carr is the most relatable; a struggling writer trying to keep the family together (her greeting card ideas, however, are 100% nonsensical).
The three actors, Glover, Avolio and Carr, also share the writing credits for “The Sisters Sorella.” None of the humor is too raunchy, but there is some sexual innuendo and allusions to male genitals. “The Sisters Sorella,” takes place smack dab in the middle between “The Facts of Life” and “The Golden Girls.” Actually, Saturdays at 8:30 pm in the mid-80s would have been the perfect time slot for them.
The show is directed by Don DiGiulio (now, that’s Italian!). The show’s pace is fast, frenetic and high energy. It’s a DiGiulio specialty.
Like the Bolognese the sisters are trying to perfect, every ingredient is the absolute best, making a delicious, delightful meal. I can’t wait to tune in to the next episode.
Note: You have one more chance to the first episode; January 17 at 10 pm at the Arcade Comedy Theater, 811 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh. For more information, go to http://www.nonameplayers.org/index.php/2015-season/the-sisters-sorella
Episode 2 goes live February 27th and 28th at 10 pm at the Arcade.
Episode 3 will “air” March 27th and 28th same bat time, same bat channel.