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Married to the Idea of Bachelorhood

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SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

“The Sicilian Bachelor,” which christens the 99-seat space at the hand-some new American Renegade Theatre in the NoHo Arts District, is a cute but creaky romp that provides an opportunity for its comically hyperbolic actors to act like prime hams--or is that prosciuttos?

In this adaptation by Lou Cutell, Norma Helms and Tino Trischitta, based on an original Italian work by Nino Martoglio, the actors all speak English, of course. Why they all adopt burlesqued Sicilian accents--and why they occasionally lapse into Italian when they aresupposed to be speaking Italian anyway--is anybody’s guess. Still, director T.J. Castronovo keeps the action lively, even though the play is a mere rung or two above a dinner theater sex farce.

Sexual innuendo fuels the thin plot, which concerns the comic misfortunes of Don Cola (Cutell), a wealthy bachelor who causes consternation in his sleepy Sicilian village by openly cohabiting with Millian (Pamela Bach), a bleached-blond siren from Rome.

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It’s 1925, and the folks in this backwater--particularly Don Cola’s domineering sister Marastella (Shirley Prestia)--don’t cotton to progressive notions. Yet Don Cola revels in his newfound notoriety--until he realizes that Millian’s “free love” is a surprisingly expensive proposition.

Sydney Litvack’s cozy parlor set and J.P. Luckenbach’s lighting suggest staid, sun-drenched opulence.

Sporting a toupee that looks like it was raised from seed, the extravagant Cutell twinkles in the title role, while Michael Alaimo, as the local magistrate, maintains a comic deadpan that would make Buster Keaton’s seem animated. Slinking around in Mariana Romano’s lavish period costumes, Bach is hilarious as a newfangled vamp plying her trade in the world’s oldest profession.

BE THERE

“The Sicilian Bachelor,” American Renegade Theatre, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Ends Dec. 19. $25. (818) 763-4430. Running time: 2 hours.


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