The `Mob' Puts Up Dough for a Stage Play

BREAKING LEGS Comedy by Tom Dulack. Directed by John Tillinger. Starring Philip Bosco, Vincent Gardenia, Larry Storch, Nicolas Surovy. At the Promenade Theatre.

`WE are very ethnic,'' observes tall, dark, good-looking Angie by way of explaining the milieu into which her professor friend Terence O'Keefe finds himself plunged in ``Breaking Legs.'' Tom Dulack's new comedy is indeed a broad and funny exercise in ethnicity Italian-American style.

The plot, such as it is, concerns whether and how the group of New England mobsters Angie (Sue Giosa) affectionately calls uncles will become ``angels'' (investors) to the drama O'Keefe (Nicolas Surovy) has written. Misunderstandings proliferate as Mike Fransico (Philip Bosco) and his pals grapple with show biz and the culture scene.

In some respects, they catch on quickly. Speaking with newfound authority, Mike opines: ``The second act needs work.'' (Even among the mob, everybody's a critic!) Before long, Mike exercises the angel's immemorial right to nepotism. He begins pushing his cute niece for a role in a musicalized version of Terence's play. The title, incidentally, is tough-talking Mike's adaptation of ``Break a leg!'', the actor's phrase for ``Good luck!'' on opening night.

Under John Tillinger's direction, a splendid cast of comedians exploit the opportunities for lampoon in the sometimes raunchy caper. Mr. Bosco is superb as the dominant character, a man whose laugh descends into a deep-throated bray. He is ably accompanied by Vincent Gardenia as fast-talking restaurateur Lou Graziano, Victor Argo as sardonic Tino, and Larry Storch as luckless gambler Frankie, who falls fatally behind in his debts. The Promenade Theatre roster is completed by Mr. Surovy's bemused profess or-playwright and the striking Ms. Giosa as the student who introduces him to the mob.

James Noone's created a cozy restaurant d'ecor features red tablecloths and red-checked curtains. The production was lighted by Ken Billington and costumed by David C. Woolard.

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