Seven Angels Theatre — Waterbury-born and raised actress/writer Maria Baratta has returned to the Brass City where she performs her one-woman show, Vignettes of an I-talian American Girl, at the Seven Angels Theatre. Stunning in its accuracy and honesty, this one-woman show captures the experience of a first generation American girl coming of age in an Italian Catholic family.

The insightful vignettes are tied together in a series of richly seasoned slices of family life. When the traditions of the old world collide with a new American culture, sparks fly. Like bellows, Baratta’s words create a great fire within the minds and hearts of young women trying to respect one way of life while embracing a new way.

Maria introduces the audience to her mother, father, kid sister, and some aunts and uncles. Each immediate family member is vividly realized in a performance punctuated with telling facial expressions and gestures. Originally a performance piece for the 2010 “Shortened Attention Span Festival,” she expanded it into a one-act play for the 2011 Fringe Festival last August. The current two-act version on the Seven Angels stage cuts off the action for an intermission and really interrupts the flow of the story.

Nonetheless, Maria manages to thoroughly entertain and engage the audience with her first person insight of her place within her family, within the Italian/American community, and her place as a modern American woman.

There’s plenty of comedy, especially in the first scenes when she discusses menstruation and sex with her Italian mother, or when she asks her father for permission to date an upper classman in high school. Maria is a good girl who lives to please her parents and does so by excelling in school.

There’s also plenty of drama, especially when Maria has to deal with her rebellious kid sister who wants Maria to stand up for her “big time.” The rivalry between the sisters is a universal that grows from bad to worse before turning warm and loving.

Don’t think that this is just for people with Italian ancestry. This is a universal coming of age story that fits just about every culture in the great melting pot, America.

The show plays at Seven Angels through Sunday, April 22.

 

Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in The American Theatre Critics Association, and covers Art and Culture in a blog for CBS — CT. She welcomes comments. Contact: [email protected]

 

Heart♥Chart

Heart Chart rates on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 ♥s representing a rave review.

 

♥♥♥♥♥ – “Book, Bell and Candle” Hartford Stage Company, Hartford: Equity; Box office: 860-527-5151. Through April 29.

 

♥♥♥♥ 1/2 – “Vignettes of an I-talian American Girl” Seven Angels Theatre, Waterbury: Non-Equity; Box office: 203-757-4676. Through April 22.

 

“Enchanted April” Center Stage, Shelton: Non-Equity; (NR) Box office: 203-225-6079. Through April 14. Center Stage is not reviewed at the request of the theater.

 

“Fiddler on the Roof” Bushnell, Hartford: Equity; (NR) Box office: 860-987-5900. Through April 15.

 

“My Favorite Year” Goshen Players, Goshen: Non-Equity; (NR) Box office: 860-491-9988. Through April 19.

 

“The Winter’s Tale” Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven: Equity; (NR) Box office: 203-432-1234. Through April 7.

 

NR – Not Reviewed

Equity – Member of Actors Equity Assoc.