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Welcome To Their One Man Shows

Cesar Gracia takes a pass at Pacino; while Jim Santangeli tells about what he can’t pass up.


Near right, Santangeli; far right, Gracia.

The gold standard for Al Pacino impersonations may well be that of SNL’s Bill Hader, especially in the recent “Al Pacino Checks His Bank Balance” sketch. Cesar Gracia, in his version, “The Al Pacino School of Acting,” returning to the UCB Theatre on Mondays, April 2 and 9, has the impersonation down, but doesn’t go beyond making fun of all the Pacino traits that always get played up.

Gracia’s show, for as much as it plays off audience participation, with Gracia as Pacino bringing up audience members repeatedly to be instructed in acting, is well-written, hitting every note Gracia can possibly hit about parodying him. This goes from pinpointing Pacino’s knack for stretching out the F word with a large cue-card reading “FF-HUCK…” to applying Pacino’s escalating volume in speeches to material like “Humpty Dumpty” and the “Three Little Pigs.”

Gracia carries the concept of mocking Pacino into teaching each of the audience members called up to do things the Pacino way by taking scripts and “throwing the punctuation out,” and counseling them that if “‘fuck’ is not in the script, it’s your responsibility to put it in there.

“The Al Pacino School of Acting” is fun, but it’s all the one gimmick of sending up Pacino’s mannerisms. It doesn’t take the spoof to greater levels of absurdity like Hader did.

Also on the bill in a February 2007 performance of “Al Pacino” was “My Big Fat,” a one-man show by Jim Santangeli, a UCB regular, that is a charming piece with a few gems in its script. Santangeli mocks his over-eating in this 40-minute piece that has some original points not seen before from other performers.

Notably, Santangeli describes how he can “plant the seed of athleticism” in people’s images of him by noting that he played football, even though that was over 10 years ago. But that can all be spoiled if he’s caught even toting a McDonald’s bag home. “Brown bag it,” he counsels.

A convenient table full of junk food is a central focus on the stage, and as the show progresses, Santangeli references that frequently, sometimes taking disgusting bites of creations like a bologna, cheese and mayo rolled up “cannoli,” and talking to the various items by the show’s end.

“My Big Fat” doesn’t quite go for the jugular, or the gut for that matter, but is certainly a creative and original effort. 

   

     

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