BWW Review: Shuffle Over to the Secret Room for a Night of TRUFFLES
An Italian family in the midst of a celebration, thrown into disarray by a missing prized truffle, looming money issues and an unsolved murder...it really can't get better than this, am I right? What sounds like the next great television drama is given a musical flare and thus becomes a production that is equally as entertaining as it is creative. What we have here is Truffles: Music! Mushrooms! Murder!!!, an interactive theatrical experience that brings an unsuspecting audience into the world of the Donati family as they prepare for the annual auction of their two pound truffle. A night destined to be filled with delicious food, big bucks and the deadly comedy of untold family grievances, Truffles returns for its second installment with a renewed zest that will leave audiences craving the songs and drama that only a prized truffle can inspire.
After a four-year NYC run with original creators Billy Manton, Sonia Carrion and Hal Galardi, Truffles Consortium, LLC now presents the second "season" of Truffles at the Secret Room in the heart of Times Square. Written by Gregg Ostrin, featuring songs by Jenni Lark, Hal Galardi and Cassie Nadeau and under the direction of Matthew McVey-Lee, Truffles is the newest hit in town, hosted by Engine Room New York and Urbani Truffles. Within the depths of the beautiful Secret Room, where the joys of dinner and entertainment come together for a truly enjoyable experience, Truffles provides an exciting evening of whodunnit murder, mystery and hearty chuckles that pair well with a scrumptious meal and something bubbly to drink. The show is a unique interactive experience that puts the audience in the center of the Donati drama...without the casualties.
Upon entering the Secret Room (when you locate the unmarked door on 8th Avenue), you are shown to your seats and also find yourself in the company of a stocked bar and waitstaff who are ready to make the evening as pleasant as possible. The pianist on the stage in the room's center begins to play, and a woman serenades the audience with popular songs whose lyrics have been slightly changed (thanks to Austin M. Tracy) to reflect the evening's star: the truffle. The lights dim and the show begins; with drink in hand and the warm feeling one has when in the city on a Saturday night, the audience is ready for a night of drama and laughs. We meet the Donati family: Dante, Olga and Isabella who, with employees Carlo, Virgil and Chef Bruno, are preparing for the annual auction of the family's famous two-pound truffle. With the intention of paying back mob boss Don Fiola and thereby saving their restaurant from financial ruin, the evening becomes one to remember when Dante is unexpectedly murdered and the prized truffle goes missing.
What ensues from there is nothing short of hilarious. Actors scramble around each other to discover who is responsible for these heinous crimes, while the audience is entertained (and remains thus so) as each character's involvement in the master plot becomes clear. Chef Bruno sings about his undying love for the prized truffle, Isabella is more concerned about the release of her second album than the death of her father and there is a bounty on everyone's head if the money owed isn't repaid. The plot becomes entertainingly wacky when romances spring up amidst the chaos, a handbag's secret compartment is larger than the bag itself and everyone sings their heart out as the audience determines who is truly not aware of what's going on, and who is simply playing dumb.
By choosing to attend a performance of Truffles, you're granting yourself a simple, lighthearted night of entertainment, brought to you by a very talented group of actors who are clearly having fun with what they do. There is so much personality on that stage, spread across the very colorful characters who are all at odds with one another, but somehow make the Donati business work. Whether or not you choose to have dinner with the show (which is very good, by the way), you're sure to have a great time that isn't just about beating down the crowds to get tickets to Broadway's hottest show. With the scene set and commendable actors who use their talents to bring the plot of Truffles to life, it is simply an enjoyable night out which I'm sure will leave you in much better spirits than when you first arrived. This show is wacky, hilarious, unique and all things that make a show memorable; you're sure to have a wonderful time.
Truffles: Music! Mushrooms! Murder!!! began performances at the Secret Room (located at 707 8th Avenue, between 44th and 45th Streets) on November 2nd and will continue thru December 28th. Ticket prices vary. Bar seating (show only) is $50, seats plus a three-course meal are $95, and the VIP package (which includes the three-course meal, champagne, VIP seating and an exclusive gift from Urbani Truffles) is $150 - must purchase two tickets for this option. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here, or by calling (212) 279-4200. All shows begin at 6:30 pm, but doors open at 5:45 pm and the pre-show begins at 6:00 pm. For the performance schedule and more information on the show, please visit the production's page here. The show runs two hours and is appropriate for all ages. Please be advised that the venue is not wheelchair accessible; there is a flight of stairs leading down, with no elevator.
Enjoy the show!