This past Friday I attended the first performance open to the public of a newly founded local theatre company – the Pawling Players – in their first ever play, a murder comedy entitled Rigatoni. The play tells the story of a Brooklyn family named the DiPuglias, who run a small-scale Italian restaurant called “Il Trullo”. Mr. and Mrs. DiPuglia are proud of their daughter, Rosalita, who is an actress on Broadway, and who has just been nominated for a Tony award. To the DiPuglias, there should be nothing in the way of their daughter’s winning her first Tony – except that there is. Veteran actress Linda McLaughlin is also nominated, and due to her experience it seems likely that she will win.
Desperate for his daughter to win, patriarch Nicolo arranges for McLaughlin to come to his restaurant during a magazine interview, so that he may persuade her to forfeit her Tony award for the “young talent”. The unwitting McLaughlin resists his constant pestering, until a wrench is thrown into the works when she chokes to death on a piece of rigatoni. The family subsequently enjoys thriving business over the death of such a major star upon their premises, and it looks as though their little Rosalita will win the Tony after all. But just when things seem to be turning for the better, the family is approached by NYPD detective Janovski, whose interrogation over the death of Linda McLaughlin raises the question – were the DiPuglias somehow responsible, and could it just be that they successfully managed to rig a Tony?
The most impressive thing about this production was not only in its clever concept, but in the way its players and producers were able to pull together on a clearly tight schedule, and still manage to bring the show to a completed whole. Aaron Emke is responsible for the smartly-plotted story, and his wife Amy confidently served as director of the show, who – with admirable spontaneity – had no reservation in calling members of the audience up on stage to serve as extras in a scene where the restaurant is supposed to be crowded with customers. Also, as was made clear from a couple of minor announcements given before the show, the production has faced trying moments due to conflicting schedules between players and play – on the evening I attended, one of the leading actors (a New York police officer) was scrambling to make it to the theatre due to traffic. And so, the Players must be given due credit for successfully completing and producing their very first venture.
A high-concept play, Rigatoni managed to provide a sound stage in displaying the fruits of a community’s hard work in putting together a newly written show. Considering this, as well as the difficult circumstances that it was produced under, I’d say the Emkes and company are well-deserving of congratulations. What we have here is one well-developed story, and for the scarcity of its resources, it still possesses the ambitious mindset of… oh, say someone willing to kill for the sake of a Tony.