Written By Patrick Chavis
Big Shot A.K.A This Is Not The God Father is many things, so many things it’s not really a show you can put in a box. The show is live, innovative and unapologetically unique. Though the production is scripted and planned, everything seems spontaneous and strangely bizarre. These are some really talented people, and I probably could watch them recite the constitution and get excited. The elements for a great show are there: the talent, the message and even a little innovation. But the show is fragmented and maybe a little too esoteric to connect effectively with most audiences, even if they have seen The Godfather.
The show is set around a trial with the writer of The Godfather, Mario Puzo, defending his work to a trial committee criticizing his most famous work. While Puzo defends his choice to write The Godfather, we follow Michael Corleone as he does his best to separate himself from his family. In the process we meet many of the memorable characters from the movie: Kay, Tom Hagen, Sonny, Fredo, and Connie. Each character brings a unique and very stereotypical Italian feeling to their parts, though only Caitlyn Conlin (Kay) the actress not the character is actually Italian. Each character gets a moment to explain their character in greater detail (this is where actually reading the book or seeing the film would make it a more interesting show).
It’s not a musical exactly because there are sections devoted to just acting and just dancing. So I would say this show is something of a hybrid. The show is at its best, when they are singing and dancing. Tom Hagen’s (Mark Doerr) song, “I’m Not Italian,” isn’t just fun to listen to; it’s hilarious and heartfelt all at the same time. You really feel for this guy who was adopted into this Italian family and knows no matter what he does he will always be a little bit different from his family.
By the end of the show you’ll have a good laugh over some moments, but the humor and message is probably better suited for a comical documentary then a show on stage. Also there are times when they try to interact with the crowd, and it just feels thrown in. Something tells me South Coast Repertory isn’t the audience or location for a show like this. Big Shots might be funnier to watch at a bar with a few drinks or with a younger audience and even more audience participation. Without a more authentic connection with the audience, the show kind of misses the mark.
April 22 – May 3 2015
South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa
655 Town Center Dr, Costa Mesa, CA 92626