BWW Review: GEMINI at The Harrison Players
You're invited to Francis Geminani's twenty-first birthday party, good food good people! The festivities include meeting an outrageous gaggle of guests including Francis' father and his honey Lucille, their neighbor Bunny and her son Herschel, and Francis' friends from Harvard Randy and his lovely sister Judith. We heard it was going to be some party and it certainly was a sensational celebration! The Harrison Players" hilarious production of Albert Innaurato's record-breaking comedy "Gemini" is a delightful and nostalgic trip down memory lane.
Gemini opened on Broadway in 1977 and was produced by Jerry Arrow after a successful run at the Circle Repertory Company in New York City. The production ran five years and 1,819 performances making it Broadway's longest running comedy and the fourth longest running play in Broadway history. This coming of age classic pops up regionally once in a blue moon and when it does, we are ecstatic to be transported back in time. Not only do today's audiences get an expert education in Broadway history, they also finally realize where their elder relatives get the one-liners "I'm not hungry, I'll just pick!" and "Take human bites!" from.
"Gemini" transports us to South Philadelphia where we meet family and friends just as wild and zany as all of ours. The tight-knit and winning ensemble includes Phil Dante as the perfect Fran Geminiani, the Italian patriarch who loves his son Francis and only wants the best for him. Fran's wife has left and his new love Lucille is the picky eater played by the fiery Marci Stearns. Ms. Stearns consistently utilizes her first-rate comic chops and never holds back.
Fran's son Francis is turning twenty-one and questioning his sexuality. The dazed and confused birthday boy played by a warm Greg Weiss is certainly "Gemini's" nucleus and his love interest Randy played by the sweet and innocent Richie Lauria is just as terrific. The love triangle trauma ensues when Francis' gal pal and Randy's sister Judith figures it all out. Dakota Martin as Judith is classy and wise beyond her years. Her intellectual persona blends beautifully with her wit and poise.
You can't help but giggle each time Anthony Ricci is on stage as the shlubby neighbor Herschel as he gets himself involved in the neighborhood drama. If one questions why Herschel turned out the way he did, meeting his over the top mother speaks volumes and explains it all.
Christine Dannic is a marvelous Bunny and a storm not to be reckoned with. She is a forceful tornado of both joy and laughter as she commands the stage with comedic brilliance. This explosion of talent is mind-blowing and living next door to her would certainly be highly entertaining.
The birthday party eventually gets into full swing but not without an eruption of family squabble, self-reflection, growing pains, and lavish banter. Director Anthony J. Valbiro recreated this "Gemini" with fresh craftsmanship staying faithful and paying homage to the original salacious material. The outstanding production team including Stage Manager Laura Groven and Lighting Designer Cyrus Newitt remarkably made us feel comfy and cozy at the backyard celebration.
Special thanks to Harrison Players' Executive Producer Jennifer Ricci for being such a gracious and hospitable hostess as we revisited our old friends and neighbors. You should visit too! "Gemini" plays through October 20 and it's a smash!
Starring Gregg Weiss, Christine Dannic, Richie Lauria, Dakota Martin, Anthony Ricci, Phil Dante, and Marci Stearns. Directed by Anthony J. Valbiro.