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      New play by Steve Galluccio gives homage to St Leo

       
      By
      Oct. 1, 2013

      Montreal’s Centaur Theatre opens its 2013/2014 season this week and it looks like the Italians are taking the reigns. Again.

      Since 2001, five seasons have opened with either a Steve Galluccio or Vittorio Rossi play. This season will mark the sixth time, with the world premiere of Steve Galluccio’s The St. Leonard Chronicles.

      Anyone who frequents Montreal’s only professional English-language theatre knows Steve Galluccio and Vittorio Rossi. And most have always assumed the two to be competitors. They are, after all, two Italian-Montreal writers who write English plays on Italian themes and compete for a coveted spot in the Centaur season.

      “Everyone says that we were competitors, I don’t know where that comes from,” Galluccio explains.

      “We knew of each other. But we had actually never met until one week before rehearsals began for In Piazza San Domenico,” Rossi explains.

      In Piazza San Domenico was Galluccio’s last play at the Centaur and featured Vittorio Rossi in the cast.

      Rossi fondly recalls getting a phone call from a friend who happened to be a cast member in Galluccio’s Mambo Italiano. The play opened the 2002 season at the Centaur and was breaking box office records, records that Rossi’s 1988 The Chain had held for over a decade.

      “It took another Italian to match or surpass our box office record. I was proud. We’re from a minority group and look at what we are able to achieve in the English community,” Rossi comments.

      And now it looks like another Italian-Montreal themed play is breaking records. Weeks before opening night for The St. Leonard Chronicles, dozens of performances were already sold out and an additional week had already been announced.

      “It’s unbelievable. The numbers are incredible,” Galluccio admits.

      “You don’t have to be Italian to enjoy this play. We both do this. We write specific but with a universal subject,” Rossi explains.

      Galluccio’s previous plays, Mambo Italiano and In Piazza San Domenico, were both runaway hits at the Centaur. Mambo Italiano in particular would go on to become a hit on the big screen.

      The St. Leonard Chronicles celebrates the Italian-Montreal family dinner in all its glory, tense or otherwise. The family dinner promises to be a typical gathering, until the family’s son and his wife announce their plans to move out of St. Leonard to the suburb of Beaconsfield. Mayhem ensues.

      Galluccio admits that although he did not grow up in St. Leonard, he was well aware of its allure as the “promised land.” In the 1960s, many of his relative and family friends moved to the suburb.

      “Back in the 60s the real Little Italy was Jean Talon Street. Little Italy on St Laurent was a dump back then,” Galluccio explains.

      “Many young Italians think of St. Leonard as the Italian Westmount. It was really a small enclave of Italian families. They had their own English-Italian dialect, their own style, their own hangouts. I was always fascinated that there was a unique way of doing things there, a unique lifestyle,” he continues.

      The play brings back the cast from In Piazza San Domenico. Six of the seven-person cast starred in Piazza San Domenico. Dorothée Berryman joins Michel Perron, Christina Broccolini, Guido Cocomello, Jocelyne Zucco, Ellen David and Rossi.

      Bringing the Piazza San Domenico cast together felt like a natural evolution for Galluccio. When Galluccio was working on The St. Leonard Chronicles, he had invited his Piazza cast to his home for a reading.

      “The cast felt right,” Galluccio admits.

      “Early in my career I always worked with the same people. Seven plays in five years and I pretty much used the same people,” Galluccio continues.

      “What some of our colleagues don’t get is that paying audiences love seeing the same faces and actors together again. In the last play I was chasing Ellen [David]. Now we are married in this one. I think our audience will get a kick out of that,” Rossi continues.

      “The Sunday dinner was the centerpiece of the week for Italians. It was expected that everyone came together. And sometimes there were tensions. Steve really captures that. I don’t think I’m coming to work. I’m just reliving my past,” Rossi adds.

      Galluccio concurs.

      “After our first rehearsal I had very vivid dreams. It was weird. I was reliving my own past,” Galluccio muses.

      The St. Leonard Chronicles previews tonight and runs until November 3, 2013 at the Centaur Theatre, located at 453 St-François-Xavier in Old Montreal. For tickets, please call the theatre box office at (514) 288-3161, or online at www.centaurtheatre.com.

      UPDATE: The St. Leonard Chronicles has been extended until December 1, 2013.

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