April Woodall poignantly illuminates “Born Fat” at Seven Angels Theater Waterbury

 By Tony Schillaci and Don Church

Playwright Jacques Lamarre has once again adapted a delicious food-related book, a la his previous hit play “I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti,” for the stage. Elizabeth Petruccione, healthy-eating guru and subject of the play "Born Fat" by Jacques Lamarre helps others keep the weight off with her seminars -- 'Losing Weight With Elizabeth.' Find her on Facebook and say hello.

This time the subject is author Elizabeth Petruccione’s laughing-with-tears-in-her-eyes autobiographical tale “You Were Born Fat.” The play, simply entitled “Born Fat,” had its world premiere at Waterbury’s acclaimed Seven Angels Theatre last month. Although its limited run ended on January 31, this delightful play starred the charismatic and talented April Woodall as Elizabeth, and is certain to find other fine regional theaters across the country. It’s a witty and touching story that most people can identify with on many levels.

The setting is a drab church basement, where she is conducting a seminar on her self-help book, “Losing Weight.” April Woodall’s winning performance overcame the pseudo-hallelujah location.

Mr. Lamarre has a keen understanding of women’s issues, and writes with deep insight for female characters. He especially understands the challenges women face with self-esteem and body-image issues -- and is sensitive to the real life problems experienced by women of a certain age. In adapting Elizabeth’s true-life saga for the stage, he certainly had a treasure trove of sturm und drang to dramatically interpret and did so in a most entertaining and honest way. Jacques' humor always is based in the truth - which is the best comedy.

Not only did now-healthy guru Ms. Petruccione wrestle with weight-loss all her life, but she was plagued by a series of failed marriages, family conflict, betrayal by best friends, and untimely tragedies that affected her eating habits. Through it all she managed to put 93 pounds on and take them off again innumerable times, consume 40,000 diet pills and other dangerous legal drugs prescribed by MDs (major deities), and become a group leader for one of the nations’ biggest corporate weight-watching scheme companies, the name of which has been aptly -- and legally -- renamed in the play. We were fortunate to have seen actress April Woodall back in 2010 in Lamarre’s acclaimed “Gray Matters” for which she won the Outstanding Lead Actress Award at the New York Midtown International Theatre Festival. It was a pleasure to see her once again in this poignantly funny interpretation of a real-life, 62-years young woman’s lifetime struggle.

“Born Fat” gives Jacques Lamarre the opportunity to lambaste the corporate food giants as well as the drug companies for their greedy disregard for the health and safety of consumers. He does it with a wit and style that is topically relevant and resonates with almost everyone who sees this yummy play. Carrot stick, anyone?

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