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NEW YORK CITY CENTER "Ayodele" & NYWIFT, Film Screening: Mafia Momma!! REALREACTIONS VOL 2

"Joy has arrived" is what Ayodele's name means in Yoruba, (as she states in the program's billing!) and it is quite fitting because joy is exactly wh

at you receive from her wonderful curation for New York City Center's Artists at the Center! The folks of color and Blacks can tap, y'all!! 😊

But of course, we knew this, and have been knowing this for quite some time. This curated piece however is a beautiful reminder of the history that people of color, particularly Black folks have had in relation to tap dancing. You could tell from the opening of Act I when the beautiful Brinae Ali comes on to the stage in her royal African garb that this piece wasn't just going to be an ordinary tap show, but one for and about us!

Directed by Ayodele’s partner and collaborator, Torya Beard with additional choreography by (takes deep breath in) Jared Alexander, Brinae Ali, Ayodele Casel, Tomoe "Beasty" Carr, Amanda Castro, Michelle Dorrance, Naomi Funaki, Gerson Lanza, Dario Natarelli, and Caleb Teicher (whew!) Ayodele assures to make this moment a collaborative one, and one for her community!

One would think with all these folks coming together to create this work, it would feel disconnected or incohesive, but this collective rises to the occasion assuring these acts thread together beautifully and seamlessly. As an audience member (whom I don't think has been to a tap dancing show since a Syncopated Ladies moment back in 2018!) I easily followed the storylines and found myself very engaged, and intrigued by what the next number would be! It was a lovely surprise to see how these artists were able to bring in and merge other artistic elements such as story narration, contemporary dance, singing, and a live band to aid in supporting the main intent of this curation which was of course to highlight tap dancing with people of color at the center. It was a production with a little something for everyone!

Alan Edwards’s lighting design was spot on (no pun intended!) and provided the right mood and aesthetic for every dance and moment. Christopher Vergara's costume design also took center stage helping bring so many of the numbers to life!

Can we also give it up for every single one of those dancers?! Spanning many generations-from the legendary Hank Smith to the young and strappy Jared Alexander, this ensemble was fierce and exceptional. Having such a diverse group in age, race, and gender only validated Ayodele’s intent to "amplify the diverse voices" of her community. Any place you looked on stage you could see yourself reflected back at you, and at a tap-dancing show, that is a feat!

One of my favorite moments had to be the opening of Act II with Hank Smith and the visual projections that included a nod to the legendary Gregory Hines and the trials and triumphs of Black history, and its connections to the art of tap dancing. A beautiful eye-opening and powerful moment. Crystal Monae Hall was also a scene stealer absolutely singing her face down as per usual, okay!

Overall, yall, my REAL Reaction is that this production was so beautiful, powerful and refreshing! It was such a joy to see BIPOC represented in this art form and absolutely living in it!! Having the opportunity to see this show reminded me that no matter what art form- our people have been here, and our culture, our history, and our art have always been at the center. Congrats to the whole team!!

If Stella Got Her Groove Back, and VH1’s Mob Wives (with a dash of Legally Blonde) had a baby, the new movie, Mafia Mamma would be the offspring!

A hilarious action comedy starring Toni Collette, and Monica Bellucci, Mafia Mamma is the perfect spring film for a fun girls’ night out!

After sending her son off to school and finding out her husband had been cheating with her son’s guidance counselor(!), Kristin (Collette) finds herself at a loss until she gets a call from distant family members informing her that her grandfather had passed, and she needs to fly to Italy to attend his funeral right away! When she arrives, she suddenly learns that not only was her grandfather but her entire family a part of the mob and her grandfather had left the family business in her hands bequeathing her the new Mafia Mamma! Hot mess quickly ensues as Kristin tries to ration with her new reality. With support from her grandfather’s former right hand, Bianca (Bellucci). Kristin, of course, has many questions at first but quickly realizes she must roll with the (literal) punches.

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke with writing by Amanda Sthers and J Michael Feldman (screenplay), this hilarious cluster of chaos and confusion will have you hooting, clocking the side eye, and shaking your head all at the same time watching the wild series of events that occur! Production was led by Cattelya, Cornestone Films, and Edver Films. Cinematography was helmed by Patrick Murguia with Christopher Simon, Amanda Sthers, and Toni Collette also on executive producing duties.

The cast of players were hilarious and played their parts well. Toni Collette, and Monica Bellucci were of course a time to be had, but special shout-outs also go to Sophia Nomvete who played Jenny (Collette’s best friend) and additional comedic relief, as well as Alfonso Perguini who played Dante, and lastly but certainly not least, the wonderful two gents who played Kristin’s loyal bodyguards!

All in all, this movie is great for a simple and fun afternoon or night out. Packed with girl boss energy, action, and ALL the comedy, you won’t want to miss this one in theatres. Go check it out, y’all!

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