ICT Presents 'The Sweepers' Beginning June 10th
You don't have to be Italian to enjoy the West Coast premiere of The Sweepers at ICT. Caryn Desai directs John C. Picardi's comic drama about Italian American life during World War II at International City Theatre in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Performances take place June 13 through July 6, with low-priced previews beginning June 10.In The Sweepers, Picardi examines the effect of World War II on three life-long Italian-American friends. Bella, Mary and Dotty have been friends and next door neighbors in Boston's North End Italian neighborhood since childhood. Now, with their husbands and sons away, they face unsettling pressure to assimilate and change with the times - no easy task for these women who cherish traditions, values and cultural heritage.Each of the three must deal not only with upholding the "Italian way," but with her own troubles as well. Dotty's (Donna Ponterotto) husband is in a mental hospital and her son is fighting in Europe. Mary (Valerie Perri) must adjust to living life alone while her husband and son fight on the front lines in the Pacific. Bella (Susan Giosa) fights her battles at home, dealing with her half-Irish lawyer son and the upper class woman he has chosen to marry. In the ICT production, newlyweds Sonny and Karen are played by real-life newlyweds Jamie Hobart and Danielle Vernengo. Commissioned by the National Italian American Foundation to foster positive representations of Italian American life, The Sweepers had its world premiere Off-Broadway at Urban Stages in Spring 2002, where Picardi was awarded Urban Stage's Emerging Playwright Award and his play remounted in the Fall. The Sweepers is the first in a ten-play "Italian American Cycle" Picardi is writing that focuses on the Italian American experience in the U.S. It has been published by Samuel French and appears in the Smith and Kraus anthology "Best Plays of 2003." The second play in the cycle, Seven Rabbits on a Pole, is set in the Midwest during the Great Depression.Susan Giosa (Bella) played Emilia the Maid in Tamara (L.A. Drama Critic's Circle and Drama-Logue Awards); Angie in Breaking Legs by Tom Dulack at the Old Globe Theatre (San Diego Theatre Critics Award), at the Berkshire Theatre Festival, and in New York City opposite Vincent Gardinia and Philip Bosco; Bella opposite Mercedes McCambridge in the first National Tour of Neil Simon's Pulitzer Prize winning Lost in Yonkers; with Burt Young in A View from the Bridge (Drama-Logue Award); and performed at both the Italian-American and Spanish-American theaters in N.Y.C. where her leading roles included Joan in Sexual Perversity in Chicago, The Mud Club by Jane Anderson, Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra and the female lead in Pirandello's Cece. Jamie Hobert (Sonny) most recently wrapped a two-year run of The American Girl Revue in which he hit the stage as the charming Uncle Gard and the menacing Jiggy Nye over 750 times. Valerie Perri (Mary) starred as Eva Peron in the first National Touring production Evita, performing the lead role across the U.S. and Canada. Donna Ponterotto (Dotty) was seen in Pa's Funeral and It's All About You, both at the Tamarind, and recently appeared at the Zephyr Theatre in The Last Schwartz. Danielle Vernengo's (Karen) theater credits include Barnum (Jenny Lind), Oklahoma (Laurie) and A View from the Bridge (Catherine). International City Theatre is the Resident Professional Theater at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, and the recipient of the Margaret Harford Award from the Los Angeles Drama Critics' Circle for "Sustained Excellence in Theater."The Sweepers runs Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm, June 13 through July 6. Tickets are $32.00 and $37.00 on Thursdays, and $37.00 and $42.00 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, except opening night which is $50.00 and $60.00 and includes a reception with the actors following the performance. Preview performances take place on Tuesday, June 10; Wednesday, June 11; and Thursday, June 12 at 8 pm. Preview tickets are $29.00. International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center at 300 E. Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach. For reservations and information, call the ICT Box Office at (562) 436-4610 or go to www.ictlongbeach.org.