Penny Fuller had a hunch that there was a musical in “13 Things About Ed Carpolotti.”Although there was nothing remotely melodic about the funeral parlor monologue from Jeffrey Hatcher’s acclaimed Off-Broadway play, “Three Viewings,” her intuition proved right.“I don’t know why I even thought of it; that’s not usually the way my brain works,” says Fuller, the 76-year-old celebrated actress of stage and screen. With direction, book and lyrics by Barry Kleinbort, it takes the story of recently widowed Virginia Carpolotti just learning about her dead husband’s ties to organized crime when a string of hooligans start calling in loans left in her name, and then sets it to music. “But I loved the story so.”The musical version of “13 Things About Ed Carpolotti,” which makes its West Coast premiere Thursday Jan. 29 at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, is based on Hatcher’s play. 12 through Jan.
The story plays out in the Carpolotti living room. But he’s only a figment of Virginia’s imagination. Fuller sings to piano accompaniment by musical director Paul Greenwood, who appears on the set dressed in white tie and tails. At the world premiere in December 2012, the New York Times applauded “the music is melodic, and the lyrics are clever and often poignant, deepening the book’s insights.”Fuller portrays Virginia, who reflects on her 40 “faaabulous” years of marriage with Ed even as debt-collecting goons harass her and a mysterious $1 million ransom note appears.
“He keeps playing and then looks up at me and says, ‘Are you talking to me?’ ”For the most part, “13 Things About Ed Carpolotti” is a one-woman show in which Fuller also gives voice to thugs Dino, Vinny and even Ed’s brother, Frank, who are shaking down Virginia and leaving the character with mixed emotions.According to Backstage, “Fuller finds the character’s complexities, making her a combination of naiveté, humor, fear and determination.” “There is a point in the show where I’m trying to remember who wrote a song, so I ask him,” she says.
13 Things About Ed Carpolotti
Fuller, a classically trained actress who has garnered six Emmy nominations and one win for her role in the ABC version of “The Elephant Man,” got her start starring in the 1963 Broadway production of Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park,” replacing Elizabeth Ashley as Corie Bratter.When singing didn’t come naturally to the actress, she studied with David Craig, the vocal coach to the stars.The actress/singer then took on the musicals “Cabaret,” “Rex” and “Applause,” for which she received a Tony nomination for her role of stage-struck Eve Harrington opposite Lauren Bacall’s Margo Channing, a fading star. Chalk it up to decades of experience.
Thursday and continues through Jan. When: Opens at 8 p.m. 29.Where: The Broad Stage at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica.Tickets: $45.Information: 310-434-3200. www.thebroadstage.com.