THE BARITONES, Noble Fool Theater Company, at the Royal George Theatre Center. From the cutups who created Flanagan's Wake comes this fully improvised send-up of HBO's The Sopranos. Relocated from New Jersey to Orlando, America's favorite Mafia clan is now muscling in on the Mouse--and as in the real show, plot succumbs to character. Happily, Pat Carton's ten cast members have the stereotypes down to the tiramisu. Jack Bronis is lovably depressed as don Tony, Lynda Shadrake passive-aggressive as his neurotically devout wife Tina (Tony and Tina!), and Debra Miller whiny with teen angst as Prairie. Sarah Markey, playing Nancy Marchand's self-pitying dragon mother, needs to practice disgust in the mirror.
In the fitful story I saw, Tony's frustrated sister Sophie was aching to play a clown at Prairie's graduation (a finale that never materialized). Tony's goofball nephew Nicky was a closet case, Tony had a predictable showdown with mob rival Guido "The Shoe" Rigatoni, and Tony's sourpuss shrink Dr. Farfali nearly choked on her own repression. As Tony's enforcers, Paul Connell and Mark Czoske delivered with killer deadpans the menace that anchors this chilling comedy. Even loathsome Richie popped up, though he was killed off in the next-to-last episode of the series.
The laughs are as thick as the accents, but the ride isn't always smooth. When the obligatory executions don't come out of nowhere, they're crudely set up, and the profuse profanity wears thin. Still, fans of cable's biggest hit may find in this show an offer they can't refuse. --Lawrence Bommer