Calla Borelli inherited her love of the theater from her father, Sam, but directing only Shakespeare plays in 1949 might spell the end of her beloved Borelli theater.
Trigiani (All the Stars in the Heavens, 2015, etc.) uses the motifs of the Bard’s plays—orphans, star-crossed lovers, family feuds, and mistaken identities—and the Borelli theater stands at the center of all the action. She has crafted a world of warm, lively characters whose charming idiosyncrasies lead them to collide and ricochet along the way to love. Orphaned at 5, Nicky Castone was lovingly folded into his Aunt Jo and Uncle Dom’s family in South Philly. Now 28 and a WWII veteran, he works in the family cab business, which competes with his Uncle Mike’s business across town, since Dom and Mike have been feuding since 1933. When he’s not squiring Peachy DePino, his fiancee of seven years, he moonlights at the Borelli theater as a prompter and anything else Sam and Calla need. One fateful night, however, two leads of Twelfth Night are called away, leaving Nicky and Calla to take the stage for Sebastian and Olivia’s marriage scene, and chemistry ignites. Of course, Nicky and Calla don’t know they are in love yet. First, the course of love must be strewn with obstacles: Frank, Calla’s boyfriend, who wants to demolish the failing theater; Peachy, who objects to Nicky’s breaking off their engagement; Mr. DePino, who also objects and whose threats of violence inspire Nick to flee town. Nick volunteers to drive a telegram to Roseto, Pennsylvania, but instead of delivering the message, he decides to impersonate Ambassador Carlo Guardinfante of Roseta Valfortore, Italy, a decorated WWII veteran who can no longer attend the Roseto Jubilee given his sudden illness. Chaos ensues.
A delightfully sprawling comedy full of extended families, in all their cocooning warmth and suffocating expectations.