Back To Artword Productions 2002-2003

Back at Arword! Three weeks only!
originally October 24 to November 10, 2002
now October 27 to November 10

Cu'Fu? (Who Did It?)
written and performed by Charly (Calogero) Chiarelli
Produced by Artword Theatre,
Directed by Ronald Weihs,
Designed by Judith Sandiford

Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 3 pm: all tickets $26
matinée Saturday at 4 pm: $20 regular, $15 students/seniors

Artword Theatre, 75 Portland Street, Toronto (
one block east of Bathurst, south of King)
416-408-ARTD (2783)

Charly Chiarelli’s hit show Cu'Fu? returns to Artword
 Charly Chiarelli is coming back to Toronto with the show that has made him famous – Cu’Fu? (Who did it?). For three weeks only, from October 24 to November 10, 2002, Charly’s hilarious and touching tribute to his crazy Sicilian Family will be running at Artword Theatre, the theatre where it started out.
Today, Charly is known across Canada, from Halifax to Vancouver, from his home town Hamilton to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. The Edmonton Journal called him "the Sicilian Spalding Gray, or the Hamilton Mark Twain". A television version of Cu’Fu? has played repeatedly on Bravo! This year the first half of Charly's follow-up play, Mangiacake! played on Bravo! after its run at Artword and the second half (Bruta Figura), will be coming to Bravo! soon.
Cu’Fu? weaves its spell on audiences of all kinds, but it has a special impact on Canadians of Italian origin, particularly those from the island of Sicily.
Cu’Fu? tells the familiar story of the penniless immigrant family struggling for survival, with uncommon zest and honesty. His father’s bewilderment at technological marvels like the automatic record player are lovingly, and hilariously, described. His mother’s uncanny ability to read faces, and her outrage at the welfare lady’s nosiness, create a portrait at once affectionate and achingly funny. The unexpected reaction of both parents when their teenage son, Charly, discovers marijuana is unforgettable. And it’s all punctuated by 14 of Charly’s unique brand of Sicilian blues, featuring his gravel voice and amazing harmonica playing.
Charly Chiarelli got into storytelling almost by accident. A virtuoso blues and jazz harmonica player, he provided musical accompaniment for veteran storyteller Dan Yashinsky. It was Dan who spotted his natural gift, and told him to get out on stage with the stories of his family. At Artword Theatre’s Festival of the Human Voice in 1995, which Dan co-produced, Charly first put some of the stories together into an hour-long version of Cu’Fu?. Judith Sandiford, Artword’s managing director, told artistic director, Ronald Weihs, "Charly is terrific. We have to do something with this."
Ron worked with Charly as director and dramaturge through several versions of Cu’Fu?, until the present version – two hours with an intermission – evolved. They worked together again on Mangiacake!, Charly’s story of how he returned to Sicily to find his roots. Judith Sandiford designed the Toronto productions of both shows.
From the beginning, Cu’Fu? was an underground hit, particularly among Italian Canadians. Word of mouth spread like wildfire. People came back again and again, bringing ever-larger groups of friends and family. Charly has appeared five times at Artword Theatre. In between, he has criss-crossed the country with Cu’Fu? and Mangiacake!.
He has just completed a sell-out week of Mangiacake! at the Theatre Aquarius Studio Theatre in Hamilton, Charly’s home town. On the first night, Monday, September 30, the room was full people who knew just how true the stories were. When Charly started to tell about working in the Chicken Roost restaurant, a voice called out "Max Mintz is here!" Charly shot back, "Well Max, if you’re really there, you may remember how one of the guys dipped the mop in the gravy bucket." Max, now a legendary figure in Hamilton, was there, and he and Charly had a good talk after the show.
Ottawa producer Harvey Glatt heard about the success of Cu’Fu?, and came to see it in Toronto. He contacted Denis Beauchamp of UB Wired Productions, and set it up with Bravo! to produce Cu’Fu?! for television. He also facilitated Charly’s successful run of Cu’Fu? at the National Arts Centre.
Where will Charly go from here? A few years ago, the script was translated into Italian, opening up the possibility of touring Italy. England and the United States beckon. For now, however, Cu’Fu? is back in Toronto, for three weeks October 24 to November 10, 2002.
For more information call Josée Duranleau, Duranleau Publicity, 416-652-7672.