MAKE A DINNER DATE WITH ‘ITALIAN, GOOD LOOKING’ UNCLE TOOTS
CLEVELAND, OH, January 17, 2017—“I’m takin’ it to the people,” declared Uncle Toots, live via Skype from his 1,000 square foot colonial style home that he calls Toots Tower, at an undisclosed location in Parma, Ohio. “Bein’ with my people and feelin’ how much they love me is my favorite. You seen me in that TingleTangle show Theater Ninjas did? Twice? It was a sell-out show both times! People peed their pants when I took the stage. I love makin’ people pee!”
It’s language we’re not accustomed to from our icons, but these are new times with new rules, and Uncle Toots is on the cutting edge in spite of his age. “I had my YouTubes successes, my Twitters, my Facebooks, but the only damn thing gettin’ any coverage on the internets anymore is the damn President-erect!” A piercing beep emanated from his end of the Skype window. His personal nurse, identified only as Nurse Nancy, paused scrolling through her Instagram account, peered through the camera, and complained we were making Toots’ diabetes flare-up. She urged Toots to conclude the interview, stating, “You’re gonna miss Judge Judy.”
Toots giggled and cooed like an infant playing Candy Crush on their iPad, blurting, “The long and snort of it is I been keepin’ a secret: from 1950 to 1953, I seen this girl, Fina. Beautiful, ‘small but mighty,’ my sister, Barb, says. Barb was Fina’s best girlfriend. Anyways, I went into the service, Fina got married and had kids. I came back and sold my sausage ‘round the USA. We all make our choices,” Toots demurred. “Anyways, we got together again forty-some years later. I’m not givin’ away the whole damn thing! You gotta come have dinner with me, Nurse Nancy, and your Aunt Barb when Fina’s grandson, Andy Boy, comes to visit me. He wants to know more about her life, so I told him to bring you over for my sauce and stories.”
“It’s a story of love found, lost, found, and lost again,” a statement from Toots that caused Nancy to groan as she pricked him. “But it ain’t worth a damn if you don’t join me at my table. I can’t wait ta feed ya my famous pasta and see ya!”
“Yeah, me either,” deadpanned Nancy. “Damn diabetics.”
Sunday Dinner with Toots is the conception and production of 2016 Creative Workforce Fellow in Theatre: Improvisation and Storytelling, Ray Caspio (Cleveland Public Theatre’s The Santaland Diaries at Playhouse Square, 2015 & ‘16; Theater Ninjas’ TingleTangle and The Excavation @ the Cleveland Museum of Art). It is based on interviews he conducted with Uncle Toots, Aunt Barb, family members, and other first and second generation Italian-Americans who grew up in the 1930s-50s on Cleveland’s East Side. It features creator-performers Caspio, Benjamin Gregorio, Cassie Neumann Lucas, and Lauren B. Smith. Kevenn T. Smith is co-producer and clothing consultant with pasta, homemade sauce, and salad by Marilu Mercadante...Toots was created through acting and improvisation techniques honed during Caspio’s Fellowship year.
The Creative Workforce Fellowship is a program of the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture. Funding for the Fellowship program is made possible by the generous support of Cuyahoga County residents through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. This piece is funded, in part, by the Creative Workforce Fellowship.
This performance piece was developed as part of the LAUNCH performance creation residency program of the Community Engagement & Education Department at Playhouse Square, Cleveland, Ohio.
Thanks to Scott Skiba and Cleveland Opera Theater for the generous donation of the performance space.
Sunday Dinner with Toots is also available for private bookings. Uncle Toots would only consent to this interview if Ray was excluded from the conversation.
SUNDAY DINNER WITH TOOTS
an original performance experience by Ray Caspio & Uncle Toots
with creator-performers Benjamin Gregorio, Cassie Neumann Lucas & Lauren B. Smith
clothing consultant Kevenn T. Smith
produced by Ray Caspio & Kevenn T. Smith
homemade sauce prepared by Marilu Mercadante
February 9, 10, & 13 at 7:30pm
February 11 & 12 at 6:00pm
Doors open 15 minutes prior to start time.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115
look for acme in the window
Thanks to Cleveland Opera Theater for the donation of this space.
Free and street parking near the building.
Uncle Toots, here. Good to see ya! I’ve done the YouTubes and made ya pee-your-pants laughin’ in Theater Ninjas’ TingleTangle. Now, by popular (my) demand, I have my own skit: Sunday Dinner with Toots! I been keepin’ a secret: from 1950 to 1953, I seen this girl, Fina. Beautiful: “small, but mighty,” your Aunt Barb says. I went into the service. Fina got married, had kids. I sold my sausage ‘round the USA. We all make our choices! Lotsa years passed. Her husband bought the farm and Fina and I had 16 more years together before she went to a better place in 2011. Her grandson, Andy Boy—Italian guy, good lookin’—wants to know more about her life, so I told him to bring you over for my sauce and stories! Aunt Barb and Nurse Nancy’ll be there, too. You gotta let me know beforehand when you're comin', though. We’ll sit around my table: a pasta meal, a lovely show, a belly laugh, and off ya go!
Tickets $30 each, including meal*
Highly limited seating! Seats must be purchased at least one day in advance!
http://www.raycaspio.com/uncletoots or (440) 50T-OOTS to buy your seats!
Please let us know the date you're planning on, how many in your party, and if you require a vegan/vegetarian pasta option.
A PayPal invoice will then be provided.
Group rates available for groups of six or more.
Meal includes homemade pasta, red sauce, and salad.
Also accepting private bookings after February 13!
Payment must be made in advance. Ticket sales are final. You may exchange your tickets for a different performance of the same show prior to 48 hours of your scheduled reservation, if seats are available.
Follow Uncle Toots at http://www.raycaspio.com/uncletoots
Twitter & Facebook @uncletoots
Follow Ray Caspio at http://www.raycaspio.com, Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Ray Caspio is a performance and teaching artist whose original work explores identity and the performer-audience relationship. He received a 2016 Creative Workforce Fellowship: a program of the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture. Funding for the Fellowship program is made possible by the generous support of Cuyahoga County residents through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. Scene Magazine calls Ray a "riveting...magical performer" and profiled him as 2014's Thespian. He was awarded Best Risk Taker by Scene during his tenure as Associate Artistic Director of Theater Ninjas (2012-15) for the conception and performance of TingleTangle, which leveraged stories from his journey with marriage equality and sexuality to show how oppressive laws and hate speech affect the queer community. A critic recognized that audiences left with "a challenge to free yourself to be who you are," a core element of Ray's artistic ethic. Other Ninjas performer-creator credits include the original devised productions The Excavation & Ninja Days @ the Cleveland Museum of Art, Code: Preludes, and The Turing Machine (co-writer), among several others. This October, he created and performed an improvised storytelling piece, Your Ask is Mine, with frequent collaborator, Uncle Toots, for Ninjas’ Positive Reinforcements. He has also performed at Cleveland Public Theatre (The Santaland Diaries 2015 & 2016 at Playhouse Square, The Importance of Waiting for the Eagle at Big Box '14; At-TEN-tion Span; and co-creator of the performance installation, Peek, at Pandemonium ’12), and convergence-continuum (Give Me the Map, An Apology...by Doctor John Faustus...). He teaches for Playhouse Square, the Cleveland Museum of Art, MetroHealth Arts-in-Medicine, and privately. He also leads personal storytelling workshops for organizations. Ray is the creator and host of Who•Ray, a comedy and conversation podcast available on iTunes. His training includes Michael Chekhov (MICHA), the Alba Method, Linklater voice, Eccentric Performance, Clown, and Bouffon; and he has trained in improvisation, comedy writing, and personal storytelling at Chicago’s Second City.