RAELLEN MAUTHER AS NONI CIMINO PHOTO BY JULIA GERACE
In most cultures and religions around the globe, family is the glue that holds us together. Add to family the uniting and bonding ingredients of food and you have the magic recipe that keeps traditions and holidays so dear to our hearts. Italians have long recognized these important factors and have melded them in every layer of lasagna and morsel of meatball. To learn about the importance of breaking bread and dipping it in gravy, the proper term for tomato sauce, come running to Pantochino Production of “Noni Cimino’s Kitchen” weekends until Sunday, May 7.
This original production was written by Pantochino’s Artistic Director Bert Bernardi for book and lyrics, with music by Justin Rigg, and focuses on a wonderful and warm grandmother, affectionately called Noni by her close knit clan. Played with heart and spirit by Raeleen Mautner, an actress who has a radio show as well as writes books, Noni is at the center of this tale. Excitement is in high gear when the unsuspecting Noni wins the opportunity to make her famous dish, chicken pizziaola on national television with the master chef Graham Kerr.
Thanks to a letter penned by Noni’s daughter-in-law Lori (Hannah Duffy), whose own recipe for gefilte fish was rejected, Noni is now the center of attention, with recognition she doesn’t want. Her daughters (Mary Mannix, Maria Berte and Shelley Marsh Poggio) as well as her granddaughters (Brianna Joy Jackson and Mia Davi), nosy neighbor (Valerie Solli), her niece (Emily Kopstein) and son (Jimmy Johansmeyer) are all aflutter at the news.
Noni’s tiny kitchen, created in great detail by Von Del Mar, is soon stuffed like manicotti, with everyone who wants to be part of the excitement. When the television show’s lead man Jerry (Justin Rigg) arrives, the kitchen is in happy chaos as everyone wants to help. Noni even offers Jerry a slice of heaven, her special dessert bianco mangia, affectionately termed “blah,” an all white with cherries marvel of cake and creme.
Will Noni get her moment on the television screen? Will her chicken pizziaola become world famous? Be sure to eat a hearty helping of Italian fare so you won't starve as the daughters give cooking lessons on stage. The show is set up like a cabaret so you can bring food and drink to share at your table. For tickets ($20 on line, $22 at the door), go to www.pantochino.com. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., with an extra show on Saturday at 2 p.m. April 29. All shows take place at the Milford Center for the Arts, 40 Railroad Avenue South, Milford, on the east bound side of the Metro-North tracks.
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|Come be Italian for at least a few hours and let Noni embrace you as one of the family as, to her, la familigia is everything. Bon appetito.|