The Glorious Ones
Back in 16th-century Italy, street performers didn’t drum on buckets or paint themselves silver to draw crowds. Good old-fashioned sex jokes did the trick, and the actor-characters in The Glorious Ones have no problem getting randy for a laugh. They do, however, have problems with the irreconcilable differences between art and life.
In a story adapted from Francine Prose’s 1974 novel, the director Flaminio has handpicked each archetypal member of his troupe for a life of improvising on his portable stage. “The Glorious Ones” adore the job but grapple with typecasting and love triangles. When Flaminio discovers the gifted Francesco (Courtney Crouse), who in turn recruits the young playwright Isabella (Katie Siri), the players must either evolve or confront their mortality.
Flaherty’s powerful score and Ahrens’s smart book and lyrics deliver lowbrow farce and introspective ballads with equal strength, as does the versatile ensemble. Dana Tretta sparkles in the bawdy “Armanda’s Tarantella,” then nails a tearful finale. Danni Smith, deadpan through countless boob jokes, stops the show with the ballad “My Body Wasn’t Why.” Crouse has the comedic chops to convince us Francesco could alter the troupe’s course, and Eric Damon Smith captures Flaminio’s beloved but insecure qualities. The show traffics in familiar territory and may speak more to artists than laymen (or those not amused by fart jokes). But director Genovese maintains a brisk pace and packs BoHo’s small space with plenty of theatrical eye candy.