What's Cooking? Jacques Lamarre's 'Raging Skillet' (With Recipes)

 Chef Rossi

Chef Rossi

(The published version of this story had a different cast when the story was filed. The new cast includes Dana Smith-Croll and Marilyn Sokol.)

By FRANK RIZZO

What’s cooking at Hartford’s TheaterWorks?

Plenty.

The last time the stove-top burners were on high at the theater was in 2012 for the world premiere of I Lived, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti, Jacques Lamarre’s hit stage adaptation of Giulia Melucci’s memoir, which combined tales of romantic woes with comfort from making pasta and sauce from scratch.

Audience members in the front section even got to taste the finished goods.

In Lamarre’s new stove-to-stage adaptation, The Raging Skillet, which has its world premiere Thursday, July 20 to Sunday, Aug. 27 at TheaterWorks, it’s likely that the entire audience will have at least a little nosh.

 Jacques Lamarre

Jacques Lamarre

After all, the subject is Chef Rossi, “a Jewish lesbian punk-rock alternative caterer” who is used to feeding a crowd in unusual ways. Dana Smith-Croll plays Rossi. Marilyn Sokol plays Rossi's mother. 

Lamarre was immediately taken by Rossi’s rebel spirit after reading her memoir two years ago. It was something that was different from the solo, love-lorn nature of Spaghetti.
“I loved the thought of something with a different kind of energy,” says Lamarre, who lives in Manchester and who is senior project manager for the West Hartford-based marketing and events company BuzzEngine.


Lamarre says both the memoir-with-recipes and its stage adaptation is all about that rock ’n roll rebel spirit that put Rossi—she goes by the single monicker—against her parents, her orthodox religious upbringing, and, later, the male-dominated food industry.


But Lamarre also found a tender familial tale and a late-in-life understanding between mother and daughter.
The setting of the one-act play is the book launch of Rossi’s memoir where she is relating her life story while making a dish here and there for the crowd. But unlike Spaghetti, it’s not a solo show, but rather a three-actor play that includes the book launch’s DJ (it’s always a party, Rossi insists) and appearances by her mother who plays an important part in Rossi’s evolution.

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