Love & Spumoni – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

More than four hundred years ago, in Verona, Italy, a young girl named Juliet and her new courtier Romeo became the first star-crossed lovers thanks to the Bard. They were not, however, the only ones to endure hardship and complications on the rocky road to romance. Just ask Mary Lou Pilard who found herself in Juliet’s shoes when she entered Sacred Heart High School in Waterbury and sighted a young man named Anthony and it was love at immediate view. This true story was first presented at the story telling event The Moth, then transferred to public radio, a podcast, a novel and now is enjoying its world premiere in a play by Jacques Lamarre at Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury until Sunday, February 23.

Unlike Shakespeare’s tale, there were initially no feuding families to threaten the pair. But the fact that Mary Lou hailed from a close-knit Italian family, religious and conservative, and Anthony was a black student definitely flavored the teenager’s problems. It was 1984 and love was not on the agenda for these two innocents. As Mary Lou stalked Anthony in aggressive and subtle ways, she steadily convinced him that she was serious in her pursuit. The humorous interactions are a delight to behold.

Maria Baratta is the expressive and versatile narrator and adult Mary Lou who plays all the people in the story, from her mother and father, sisters, nonna and friends, even Uncle Dominic who carries a gun and threatens to use it when the “secret” relationship escapes into the prejudiced air. Marissa Follow Perry is the deeply committed and dedicated pursuer of love who shoots her arrows straight at Anthony’s heart. The object of her affection is Dante Jeanfelix, the adorable receiver of all that attention who finally surrenders to the full fledged attack.

Will the families destroy the tender shoots of love in bloom? Will Mary Lou find herself exiled and forced to abandon her home? Can Anthony’s mother accept her and welcome her into her new role? Will these psudo-Capulets and Montagues allow peace to reign before any one is permanently hurt? Sasha Bratt directs and choreographs this sweet foray into young love with all its pitfalls, problems and promises.

For tickets ($42-49), call Seven Angels Theatre, 1 Plank Road, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at Performances are Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. A special talk back with Mary Lou Pilard and Jacques Lamarre will be held on Thursday, February 20 after the 2 pm. and 7:30 p.m. shows.

Mark your calendar for a visit with “Coconuts,” on Saturday, February 29 at 8 p.m. for comedy, music and a wild ride. Known for their crazy parodies, fun sing-alongs and rock classics, original members John Swanson, Dan LaRosa and Paul Bongiovanni, with Joey DeCarlo and Mike Savenelli, have been entertaining for decades. For tickets ($20), call the box office.

Come cheer on young love and sympathize with all their antics and anxieties as the newest Juliet and her Romeo work to make sure the arrows pierce the target and score a victory.