On Thursday, May 25th, The Portuguese Kid opened and was a huge success, judging by the enthusiastic applause it received from an appreciative full house. For almost forty years, the Hampton Theatre Company has been producing live theater on the East End of Long Island at Quogue Community Hall. The Portuguese Kid, a comedy by John Patrick Shanley, had the opening-night crowd laughing, cheering, and at moments wincing as the action-packed 90-minute play entertained the whole house. There were huge roars of belly laughs, with applause busting out from the audience throughout the show.
Directed by Bob Kaplan, and produced by Laurie Atlas, the show displayed the wonderful talents of its cast, starting with Andrew Botsford as Barry Dragonetti, a lawyer and estate planner living in a small town in Providence, Rhode Island just after the 2016 elections. Mr. Botsford, an iconic East End talent, has been entertaining Hampton Theatre Company audiences for decades. His ability to command the stage, deliver a punchline, and win over audiences is alone worth the price of the ticket.
Kaplan successfully and brilliantly uses his cast, props, and momentum of the play to keep the audience in the flow with high attentiveness. Playwright John Patrick Shanley’s dialogue does contain “Strong Language,” so be prepared.
Rosemary Cline, another popular East End talent, also performs at her usual high level of energy that always draws in an audience. Her portrayal of the twice widowed Atalanta Lagana will have you giggling, cheering, and amazed all night, judging by the adulation of the opening-night crowd. Ms. Cline is a real pure gem.
If you are a fan of local East End theater, then by now you must be aware of the abilities of Esmeralda Cabrera. Her talent, which has been growing in every East End production she has been in, blossoms here with her part as Patti Dragonetti, a young trophy wife. She practically here owns the final twenty minutes of the show.
Vay David, who plays the widowed mother of Barry Dragonetti, brings a comic pizzazz that ignites huge laughs from the audience. No doubt her part hits home with anyone who has either an Italian mother or mother-in-law. Ms. David is brilliant in her role.
David Cardali is also brilliant in his role as the younger man, an eye-candy type of guy named Freddie Imbrossi. During the show it was hard not to notice the focus many female members of the audience gave him when he was moving about the stage, delivering fantastic dialogue that is witty and funny.
The set design of Bob Kaplan, Ricky Bottenus and Meg Sexton features a four-walled, rotating set augmented by mood lighting from the play’s lighting designer, Sebastian Paczynski. Seamus Naughton handles the sound design. Kudos to Teresa Lebrun for the costumes.
The production stage managers Amanda Griemsmann and Grace Hygom, along with lighting/sound technician Kelly Weresnick, contributed their efforts to make the show a success. This was a wonderful sign that the pandemic curse that injured and halted East End theater is now well in the rearview mirror. As usual, HTC’s gracious House Manager, Julia Morgan Abrams, was at the door with an accommodating team of volunteers, each doing his or her magic to help folks find their seats. General Manager Terry Brennan, along with the box-office staff member Cat Brackmayer, totally make the evening a frictionless theater experience. Hampton Theatre Company President, Roger Moley, announced tickets for the show running until June 11 are available at http://www.hamptontheatre.org