To all appearances, the figure on stage appears as an unpretentious, normal man—a simple suit, an umbrella but underneath, who is he? He removes mask after mask. Is that him? Is that the real Arturo? Many, many masks are shed before his "real" face is at last revealed. Or is it?

It is difficult to determine who the real Arturo Brachetti is because he changes faster than anyone else alive: now a Mountie, then a bumblebee, a harem flower, a magician, a showgirl, a contortionist, an illusionist, a mandarin, then Martin Short's Ed Grimely. He's like the weather in Chicago—if you don't like him wait a second, maybe three at the most, and he'll change.

As he tells it, this has been his passion since a child: changing into something else as fast as he could. A black and white pantomime resembling a silent movie begins on stage. Brachetti plays all the parts: pianist, barman, bandit, barmaid, sheriff, and undertaker.

Early on, Brachetti began studying the art of "transformation" with the legendary Leopoldo Fregoli. Add commedia dell'arte, shadow theatre, puppetry, quick-change, clowning, and film shorts, and you have a marvelous whirlwind of non-stop entertainment.

He takes a simple hat and runs through Gloria Swanson, the Lone Ranger, Napoleon, Cleopatra, and two dozen others in a couple of minutes. He pulls flowers from nowhere and 10,000 sunflowers pop-up all over the stage. He plays with hand shadows and creates the entire menagerie of Noah's ark in seconds.

In another sketch, a salute to Hollywood, we get Chaplin's famous globe scene from The Great Dictator, Jaws, Moses from The Ten Commandments, Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, Snow White, Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, Liza Minelli in Cabaret, Janet Leigh's shower scene from Psycho, Gene Kelly's curbside splatter from Singin' in the Rain, Bogie and Bergman in Casablanca, King Kong, Carmen Miranda, Mickey Mouse, Frankenstein, Scarlet O'Hara, the opening scene from 2001, Darth Vader and Princess Leia, and Esther Williams back-to-back-to-back.

In a final tribute to his greatest inspiration, Brachetti tips his hat and costumes to Federico Fellini, tossing off scenes from Amarcord, La Strada, 8, Roma, Casanova, The Clowns and more.

Arturo—nearly 100 characters in 100 minutes, runs through January 12th. 303-893-4100.

Bob Bows


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