What's a naive, straight-laced professor to do when he needs financial backing for a play he's written, but has exhausted all his obvious sources of funding? Turn to the mob, albeit unwittingly.
That's what happens in Thunder Bay Theatre's first show of the 2011 fall season, a comedy by Tom Dulack called "Breaking Legs" that opens Thursday for a two-week run.
Starring in the show are TBT core company members Derek Spack as the professor, Terrence O'Keefe, and Nickie Hilton as Angie Graziano, the former student he approaches because he knows she comes from money. What Terrence doesn't count on is that Angie's money is ill-gotten and that he must now deal with the "family."
"They're just a bunch of goombas from New England," said TBT Artistic Director J.R. Rodriguez of Angie and her family of mobsters. "They're small time hoods, who have been into all kinds of illegal stuff, but never into the theatre. By the end of the show, they think they are experts in theatre."
Local favorite Terry Carlson plays Mika Francisco, the head of the family. Also appearing in the show are Rick Mesler as Lou Graziano, Bill Powell as Tino DiFelice and Scott Edgar as Frankie.
"It's a great cast of local people, along with Nickie and Derek. Terry is really funny as the head of the family," said Rodriguez.
About 16 years ago, Rodriguez performed in "Breaking Legs" as Tino. He said he's chosen to use the same directing approach as did his mentor, who directed him in the play at that time.
Because the show is set in an Italian restaurant, food figures prominently into the action. Rodriguez, an avid cook, intends to go the extra length by preparing many of the restaurant dishes featured in the show ahead of time.
"I'm cooking it every night pasta fazuli, spaghetti pomodoro and antipasto," said Rodriguez, whose brother is four-star chef in New York.
Throughout this madcap mafioso situation that the professor finds himself embroiled in, murder and menace are served up along with plenty of pasta and laughter.
"Breaking Legs" runs Sept. 22 to Oct. 2 with show times at 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. For reservations, call the TBT box office at 354-2267.
The remainder of the fall season includes:
All the ingredients that made "Annie" so successful are here once again, with old-fashioned romance thrown in for good measure. Rodriguez will reprise his role as Daddy Warbucks and Riley McGuire will once again play Annie.