Back back to Artword Productions 2000-2001

Charly Chiarelli's new show premieres at Artword

Mangiacake! - written and performed by Charly (Calogero) Chiarelli
Produced by Artword Theatre
Directed by Ronald Weihs
April 5 to 29, 2001
Thurs 8 pm, Sat 4 pm, Sun 3 pm: $22 reg., $16 students/sens, $12 children
Fri 8 pm, Sat 8:30 pm: $27 reg., $22 students/sens, $15 children
Artword Theatre, 75 Portland Street, Toronto
(one block east of Bathurst, south of King)
416-408-ARTD (2783)

Fresh on the heels of his sold-out remount of Cu'Fu? in February, Charly Chiarelli returns to Artword Theatre with the world premiere of his new show, Mangiacake!, running from April 5 to 29, 2001.

Mangiacake! tells how an immigrant kid tries to shed his Sicilian identity - only to discover that he wants it back again. ("Mangiacake" is what Italian immigrants call non-Italians, who eat pasty white sliced bread that looks like cake).

Like Cu'Fu?, Charly's new play is intensely autobiographical. Born in Sicily with the name Calogero, Charly is brought as an infant to Hamilton, Ontario, where he grows up in a neighbourhood of 10,000 Sicilian immigrants, all from the town of Racalmuto. Young Charly manoeuvers his way into a mangiacake school, where he runs for president of the student council. (His campaign slogan: "put a wop on top".)

Returning to Racalmuto after university with his new bride, he is confronted by a strange woman who demands "Cu si tu?" ("Who are you?") Mangiacake! is about his search for an answer to her question.

Sicily in winter is cold and mysterious. His relatives are like characters out of myth. Strangest of all is his namesake, Uncle Calogero, who lives alone with a donkey called America, and who makes him a gift that has some far-reaching consequences.

Charly Chiarelli began his career as a performer playing virtuoso harmonica in blues and jazz bands. He was in at the founding of the storytelling movement in Toronto. Initially, he accompanied storytellers with his harmonica, but soon he was telling stories himself, all about his crazy childhood in Hamilton.

Invited to participate in Artword's first Festival of the Human Voice in 1995, Charly put some of the stories together into Cu'Fu?. Artword's Artistic Director, Ronald Weihs, helped Charly to evolve the piece, and to find a style combining storytelling and theatre. Since then, Cu'Fu? has been performed in over 100 venues across the country, and shown on Bravo! Television.

Like Charly's first play, Mangiacake! originates in stories honed and polished in kitchens and at parties over the years. Together with director Ronald Weihs, Charly has pulled the stories into a compelling production that moves with energy and inventiveness.

Some of the Mangiacake! stories are hilarious. Others deal with tough subjects with a clear and forthright honesty - the brutal aspects of growing up as a newcomer to Canada, and Charly's own fight with cancer. Amazingly, Charly shows how both subjects have their funny side. And, as before, the show is punctuated with Charly's own brand of Sicilian blues and some very fine blues harmonica.

For more information call Josée Duranleau, Duranleau Publicity, 416-652-7672.

(Excerpts from Mangiacake...)