Make us your home page
Instagram

Review: Talented cast delivers nonstop laughs in Jimmy Ferraro's 'Cookin' with Gus'

Cooking With Gus continues weekends through May 15 at Jimmy Ferraro’s Studio Theatre in downtown New Port Richey. Cast members Rand Smith, left, Jessica Glass and Jimmy Chang serve up entertaining performances.

Courtesy of Jimmy Ferraro

Cooking With Gus continues weekends through May 15 at Jimmy Ferraro’s Studio Theatre in downtown New Port Richey. Cast members Rand Smith, left, Jessica Glass and Jimmy Chang serve up entertaining performances.

Patrons exiting Jimmy Ferraro's Studio Theatre after having seen the comedy Cookin' with Gus will probably be asking themselves three questions:

1. How did director Ferraro manage to snare four of the area's top performers to be in this one show?

2. How does the Studio Theatre's tiny stage manage to contain all that prodigious talent?

3. How do the walls of the theater in downtown New Port Richey withstand all the laughter and applause of the audience without severely cracking or crumbling?

Yes, that's how good the show is. It's two-plus hours of nonstop laughs, smiles and intense feelings, with perfect timing, pacing, lighting, costuming and direction, and nary an unintended misstep, though those deliberate ones are knee-slapping hilarious.

Jessica Glass plays food columnist and author Gussie Richardson (Motto: Never Trust a Skinny Chef) with gusto and spunk. She loves food, cooking and longtime live-in boyfriend Walter (a superb — as always — Rand Smith), but we're not sure in what order until the very last moment.

Gussie's wild and crazy agent, Bernie Luskin (Jimmy Chang, a stage veteran making his Studio Theatre debut), has snared her her heart's desire: her very own television cooking show. Big problem: Gussie has serious stage fright that renders her speechless when she faces a camera.

Walter, an amateur hypnotist, says he can cure her. But his cure has unintended consequences that appear to backfire. Gussie's aided and abetted by next-door neighbor Carmen (an adorably zany Sara DelBeato), a flamboyant, dramatic, nearly always drunken Jewish/gypsy Tarot card reader.

These four players work together like eggs in a perfect souffle. Their movements are so natural and smooth that we in the audience almost feel like voyeurs peeping into Gussie and Walter's tiny New York townhouse (thanks, director Ferraro). DelBeato is a marvel — her huuuuge eyes, Bronx accent, over-the-top outfits, kooky hairdos and physical comedy dominating her scenes, though she steps back and lets her fellow actors get their due at just the right moments.

Chang's Bernie takes full advantage of that, with moves that nearly bring down the house. And Glass' Gussie brings us to near tears, both with laughter and with poignancy, her acting range impressing with each utterance. Of course, Tampa Bay's near legendary Smith makes everyone comfortable with his easygoing Walter.

Playwright Jim Brochu's play debuted in 1980, but it has a 21st century sensibility that entertains and satisfies to the very last drop.

>>If you go

A tasty treat

Cookin' with Gus, a comedy in two acts, weekends through May 15 at Jimmy Ferraro's Studio Theatre, 5732 Main St., New Port Richey. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Doors open 30 minutes before each show. Tickets are $28, including tax, plus $2 service charge per order. Call (727) 409-0293.

Review: Talented cast delivers nonstop laughs in Jimmy Ferraro's 'Cookin' with Gus' 04/18/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 20, 2016 5:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Dragon ride in Harry Potter section of Universal closing for new themed ride

    Florida

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019 — sending wizard fans into a guessing game with hopes for a Floo Powder Network or the maze from the Triwizard Tournament.

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge on Sept. 5 for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019. The ride, originally the Dueling Dragons roller coaster, was renamed and incorporated into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when the hugely popular area opened in 2010.
  2. Restaurant review: Food and beer pair nicely at the Eatery at Brew Bus Terminal and Brewery

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA - Tampa Bay's craft beer scene is perennially in flux. New breweries open, others close or get scooped up by bigger breweries, some reinvent themselves so they can sell beer off site, and still others build on kitchens and add food to give enthusiasts another reason to sit tight.

    Pimento cheese with zucchini pickles, lavash and Jamison B. Breadhouse Bakes crostini is on the menu.
  3. Daniel Lipton resigns as artistic director of Opera Tampa

    Stage

    TAMPA — Daniel Lipton has resigned as artistic director of Opera Tampa, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts announced.

    Daniel Lipton became the artistic director and conductor of Opera Tampa in 2012. Lipton replaced the opera's only previous director, Anton Coppola, who retired. [Times file (2012)]
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 25

    Events

    Shawn Mendes: The multi platinum-selling singer/songwriter embarks on his first-ever headlining arena word tour in support of his sophomore album Illuminate. Charlie Puth opens. 7:30 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $43.75-$63.75. (813) 301-2500.

    Shawn Mendes, performing at Amalie Arena on 7/25/17. Credit: James Minchin.
  5. Watch Round 3 of Feeding Tampa Bay's Epic Chef Showdown

    Cooking

    TAMPA — Round 3 of the third annual Epic Chef Showdown to benefit Feeding Tampa Bay is Monday night, and you can watch it live right here.

    Chef Richard Bergendale of The Mill restaurant and Sous Chef Jeff Thornsberry of Locale Market competed in Round 1 of the Epic Chef Showdown. [Epicurean Hotel / Feeding Tampa Bay]