Reviews and Articles

Macaroni and Mal Occhio
By Arlene McKanic
Greenwich Village Gazette
November 15, 2002

One is tempted to call Macaroni and Mal Occhio, LuLu LoLo's funny and big-hearted one woman show My Big Fat Italian Family. Written and performed by LuLu LoLo, with lyrics by Dan Evans, it presents the artist as the more colorful members of her family, from her father to her aunts and cousins to her strong, generous and bosomy (I suspect) grandmothers, Lulu and Lizzie.

Her East Harlem neighborhood was a place where people slept on their fire escapes when it was hot, and sat on aluminum chairs on the street, where your neighbor borrowed your clothesline when theirs broke to dry their huge pink bloomers. Prayers were desperately offered up to the saints for accidents and illnesses at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and festivals crowded the streets. Grandma LuLu's bedroom was like a church itself, with votive candles and pictures of the saints, and the snow globe where rose petals fell on the Madonna. Of course, there was lots and lots of food. Grandma LuLu made a point of stuffing her granddaughter when she came over to eat lunch on school days. One grandmother made round ravioli, and the other made square ravioli. For Christmas the women had to serve seven different kinds of fish for the seven sacraments and the day was a long orgy of eating. LuLu's family called pasta macaroni, and tomato sauce gravy.

The family isn't the Sopranos, obviously; LuLu clearly loves everyone she portrays and everyone is kindhearted, in their own way. The performer appears as herself in a simple black dress and beret on a small stage decorated only with a dressing screen, and a kitchen table and chairs, and whips everything from fedora to feather boas and sequins to represent members of her family (some of whom were in the audience the afternoon the reviewer attended). For Grandma LuLu she transforms herself into a little old lady in a blue housecoat crying, "Mangia! Mangia! Mangia!" to her granddaughter.

She plays her father, who lost an eye in a childhood accident, with said fedora and a swagger, and the grandfather who carried someone's lost umbrella for days just in case someone claimed it, and set up a shoe shine stand to help his grandson's business. In one hilarious bit LuLu dresses in an outrageous scarlet outfit to be interviewed by Barbara Walters. She comes on as Aunt Lena, dressed in fur stole and sequined hat and egg-sized pearls.
This redoubtable lady can dispel the evil eye over the phone, but can only pass on the power to the women in the family and only on Christmas Eve.

Alas, she doesn't live to pass it on to LuLu. And then Lulu's her genial, trumpet playing cousin Cookie, who performs "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" (natch) at a wedding. It's all as crunchy sweet as a cannoli.
By the way, LuLu's 86 year old mother still wakes up every morning and makes the gravy.
Macaroni and Mal Occhio was presented at Raw Space on 543 West 42 street between 10th and 11th Avenues.