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“Eugenio” Explores WWII and Forgiveness at GAC Carol Griffith Greenbelt News Review How do one’s religious beliefs stand up in the atrocities of war? Is forgiveness really possible? Such questions are the themes of the thoroughly engrossing “Eugenio,” now playing at the Greenbelt Arts Center, the latest workby playwright Anthony Gallo. Gallo, the director of the Seventh Street Playhouse and author of over a dozen plays, tackles big issues with intelligence and much talent. His recent productions include a Bible-based trilogy; “Vandergrift!” which dealt with union-organizing during the Gilded Age; and “Lincoln and God” which treated our 16thpresident’s spirituality as he wrestled with the challenges of abolishing slavery while preserving the Union. “Eugenio,”like many of Gallo’s other plays, has been staged at the Kennedy Center and at several New York venues.
Set in Italy in 1943 as the Nazis begin to occupy Rome, the city’s Chief Rabbi, Israel Zolli, (excellently played by Steve Rosenthal) refuses to believe that the Nazis plan to harm the Jews. Finally convinced of the impending Holocaust by his Roman Catholic allies Monsignor Hilary and Cardinal Maglione (James McDaniel and Bruce Smith, respectively, in wonderful performances) and by encounters with the Nazi commanding officer, Colonel Schmitt (ably played by co-director David Weaver), Zolli seeks asylum in the Vatican. Ultimately, after much soul searching, he is called to convert to Roman Catholicism, causing much dismay and confusion. Every major character, includingZolli’s housekeeper Rosina (convincingly played by co-director Shirl Weaver); Sister Angelina, a courageous nun who hid Jews from the Nazis (Trix Whitehall, in a commanding performance); and one of Zolli’s congregants, Alberto Anso (excellently played by George Spencer), has to decide if and how to forgive their sometimes horrific losses from the war.
Their struggles are well-drawn, sympathetic and often surprising, and with this theme “Eugenio” succeeds on an emotional level. It is powerful entertainment. “Eugenio” will play on Friday and Saturday, July 25 and 26, at 8 p.m. and on Sunday, July 27 at 2 p.m.Reservations may be made through the boxoffice at 301-441-8770 or at the Arts Centerat 123 Centerway, located beneath the Co-op supermarket. WHERE Greenbelt Arts Center 123 Centerway, Greenbelt, MD Directions and Reservations: 301-441-8770.Tickets: Regular - $17 Seniors/Students - $14 Group Sales -$12 Questions: 202 544 6973 firstname.lastname@example.org Website: Eugenio: http://eugenio.aegallo.com