by Gianfranco Lentini · August 17, 2014
Say “Ciao!” to Vagabond$ at this year’s FringeNYC. Direct from Rome, Italy and produced by the Italian company ExtraTeatro (Extraordinary Theatre), this bilingual, children’s musical is here to find a foothold in the vast city of New York.
Book and co-direction by Arianna De Giorgi, and music and lyrics and co-direction by Jason Goodman, Vagabond$ is the story of two men, an American vagabond and an Italian vagabond, becoming a musical sensation duo in NYC. Acknowledging the language barrier between the two, the vagabonds (Jason Goodman and Andrea Trovato) find every other means possible to communicate to each other and the audience what they’re trying to say. Vaulted to stardom by their interactive singing, dancing, and frantic flailing, these vagabonds quickly learn the worth of having everything and nothing.
Aimed towards toddlers, Vagabond$ doesn’t require an extensive vocabulary for the younger audience members to enjoy the experience. This musical utilizes word/item recognition repeating words such as “pizza” and then presents a pizza to the audience. Similarly, as a bilingual musical, there is exposure to a foreign vocabulary such as the repetition of “Good morning” to “Buon giorno.” But my favorite part of the overall experience (one that I’ll admit to potentially reading into), Vagabond$ is in itself an early-age exposure to many long-standing theatre practices and techniques: commedia dell’arte, pantomiming/clowning, and Meisner.
Personally, as I sat in the audience watching the performance, it all became a crossover of vague memories of watching both Sesame Street and the Italian children programs my mother used to satellite straight from Italy. In a weird haze of reminiscing, Vagabond$ was simultaneously an old and new experience for me - old for the fact that I once was 4 years old enjoying this brand of comedy, and new for the sake of finding myself years later still laughing at these ridiculous antics. And I believe I’m not alone on this. For every child who giggled their way through the show, right along side them was a parent who either gave into their inhibitions or looked about them checking to see if they were too old to let out a laugh or two.
An overall educational (yet entertaining) experience, it’s no surprise that Vagabond$ makes its mark at this year’s FringeNYC representing both children’s musical theatre and foreign theatre. Make sure to check out this show as well as ExtraTeatro’s second show, My Monster Friend, produced and performed by the same creative team!