This isn’t going to be so much a review as it is a chance for me to brag about my friend, Courtney Romano, who made her Off-Broadway debut last month in a play called Philosophy for Gangsters at the Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row. I went to go see the show a second time last week. Courtney starred as Callie, a mafia princess and college graduate who leads a philosophical revolution with the help of her mob family and a kidnapped philosophy teacher from New Jersey University.
Now, the play leaves much to be desired. While a funny concept with some genuinely entertaining moments, it is very much a film script trying to be a stage play. There are so many quick “cut-to’s,” and sometimes it feels like we spend more time in scene transitions than scenes (which keeps the momentum from building). Just when a couple of characters are really starting to get to the meat and potatoes, there’s a blackout. Some scenes only last a few sentences, and then there’s a transition to jump a few minutes in time. The creators need to take advantage of the fact that we’re in the theatre. They can use stage tricks and/or set up theatrical conventions for the time jumps or even work around them entirely.
But whenever the play started to dip or wander, Courtney was there, solid, with her feet on the ground, serving as the North Star for the production. She set the example for keeping the pace and sticking to the objective at hand. If the plot started to wane, I knew I could look to Courtney who would be on track.
And on top of all that? She was still playing. She was still having fun and diving deeper into the role. I had attended opening night on February 4th, and it was great to see how much she’d developed the character over a few short weeks.
So even though the show closed on Saturday and I can’t tell you go to see it, I can tell you to keep your eyes peeled for my pal in the future.
Philosophy for Gangsters
Written and Directed by Liz and Barry Peak
Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row, closed March 1st
Photo Credit: Carl Wiemann
Pictured: Courtney Romano, Tally Sessions, David Demato, and Tom White