|Penny Fuller in 13 THINGS ABOUT ED CARPOLOTTI at 59E59 Theaters|
It didn’t take very long before Ed Carpolotti’s untimely death threw his widow’s life into turmoil. Virginia Carpolotti (Penny Fuller) discovered that under the terms of his will, she was now president of Ed Carpolotti, Inc., her late husband’s construction company, about which she knew next to nothing. But she quickly learned that business at the company had been rather slow (not good news) although the company did appear to have substantial assets (much better news). But, unfortunately (and this was much worse news) those assets had been pledged against hundreds of thousands of dollars in bank loans (according to Bob O’Klock from the bank) and the loans were six months in arrears.
And then it got even worse. Turns out that Virginia unwittingly signed papers assuming personal responsibility for those loans, as a result of which the bank has now frozen her bank accounts and threatened to seize all her personal assets – her checking account, savings account, CDs, IRAs…. And then it got worse yet: Dino Disperbio, the owner of Smith Trucking (a company with no trucks and no one named Smith in its history) has just contacted her to say that Ed had borrowed another half million dollars (at a 50% interest rate, no less!) from him and, because of other papers Virginia signed, she’s on the hook for that too. And so, naturally, Virginia turns to family – Ed’s brother, Frank – only to learn that Ed owed Frank another $300,000 but that soft-hearted Frank, being family and all, is willing to settle with Virginia by just taking her house. Could she be out by March?
It doesn’t seem that Virginia’s plight could get any worse, right? Well, it does. She receives an anonymous note from a blackmailer threatening to reveal thirteen embarrassing and scandalous things about her late husband and others unless she gives him a million dollars within a week. At her wit’s end, Virginia pours out her heart to her friend, Tootie Vaughn (despite having been warned to say nothing to anyone).
We learn all of this and more from Virginia herself in what turns out to be something of an hour long monologue interspersed with music, without ever really meeting Ed or Bob or Dino or Frank or Tootie or Danny (Ed and Virginia’s attorney) or Debbie (their daughter) or Debbie’s husband or children or Joy (Ed’s secretary) or Virginia’s parents - all of whom are talked about, but none of whom actually shows up. In fact, the only character other than Virginia herself to actually appear in this musical, 13 Things About Ed Carpolotti, now premiering at 59E59 Theaters, is the very accomplished pianist (Paul Greenwood) who plays a double role as her musical accompanist and her unconscious mind.
Virginia’s problems and all the chicanery and mysterious goings-on ultimately are resolved but I won’t tell you how for that would ruin all the fun. Suffice it to say that the original play by Jeffrey Hatcher, on which this musical is based, is very cleverly constructed and charmingly written and that, to the extent that the musical sticks to the original play, it is fun to see. Penny Fuller does a first rate job in a demanding role and Paul Greenwood brings a light hearted charm to his part. But, unfortunately, converting the play into a musical didn’t bring anything special to the mix. The score is pleasant but derivative and the lyrics sophomoric at worst and unmemorable at best. The show is definitely worth seeing and if you go, I think you’ll enjoy it, but that will be despite the music, not because of it.