Steve Solomon: a real stand-up guy

By D. A. Blackburn

<!-- CC1_1834.jpg: Steve Solomon stars in "My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish & I'm In Therapy" through Aug. 29. Photo: Courtesy Andiamo Novi Theatre -->

"My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish & I'm In Therapy" is quite possibly the shortest plot synopsis in the history of theater. It's also the title of Steve Solomon's acclaimed one-man Broadway hit, which, now touring, has taken up residence at the Andiamo Novi Theatre through Aug. 29.

The production is really as simple as its title suggests. Audiences meet Solomon in the office of his current (fictional) therapist -- he claims to have had several. The show proceeds as an autobiographical romp through Solomon's colorful family life, told as a series of anecdotes and one-liners -- some well-worn, others wholly fresh. Though the play lacks significant movement of plot -- it feels much more like highly polished stand-up, with a few props for good measure, than conventional comedic play -- there's no denying that Solomon and his script are genuinely funny.

Much of the show's humor stems from his talent for vocal impersonations and clever sound effects. Over the course of two acts, he meticulously crafts a sizable cast of characters with nothing more than his voice and physical presence. His ability to produce unique accents is prodigious, but it's his knack for crafting relatable witticisms that keep the work moving forward.

As suggested by his title, the production focuses heavily on the cultural implications of growing up and growing old in a family of mixed origins, but Solomon's characterizations and his stories could easily come from any family of any background. It's a quality that gives the show a very broad appeal.

Solomon's brand of humor is reasonably tasteful, but delves into the bluer realm occasionally enough to keep audiences off guard.

In the end, even the most serious shrink would be forced to admit that "My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish & I'm In Therapy" is a well-written comedy, delivered by a man who seems pretty well-adjusted. And though it's a little light as theater goes, it makes for a very entertaining evening out.

(FOR "INFO BOX")

REVIEW:

'My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish & I'm In Therapy'

Andiamo Novi Theatre, 42705 Grand River Ave., Novi. Wednesday-Sunday through Aug. 29. $30-$35; dinner & show packages $79.95-$89.95. 248-348-4448. http://www.andiamoitalia.com/novi

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