When Othello Met His Destiny

A lively musical with a positive message, “Hush,” which is based on an Italian play by Etta Cascini, sounds like a buoyant chord of the first annual Midwinter Madness Short Play Festival. As the play is a mix of a musical, a comedy and a regular performance, it is hard to determine which part of it to appreciate the most.

Perhaps, that’s why “Hush” makes such a good impression on the audience: it has more than one dimension, and it is wholesome with all of them united.

The play’s setting is a VIP waiting area of LaGuardia airport where Othello Salviati, successful and materialistic businessman (Seth Blum), meets Georgia, Buddhist meditation instructor (Emelise Aleandri, who also adapted the libretto). It is already funny that they happened to be in the same place at the same time, stuck in the same room because of the blizzard. They are absolutely different- from the way they look to their principles, and this is what makes the situation comical, to start with.

When Othello shows up at the stage, he wears a grey striped business suit, holds a cell phone near his ear, and regrets that “no liquor is sold at the cafe.” As a contrast to that, Georgia wears a bright yellow cloak decorated with a silver sparkling star. The rim of her glasses sparkles as well, as do her ring, her bracelets and even the stripe on her long drinking cup one usually brings on a trip. Georgia’s affirmations, which she insists on handing to Othello, are also star-shaped. She herself seems to be a star shining with optimism and kindness, a tiny sun ray that is meant to enlighten Othello’s soul hardened with the desire for revenge.

Revenge, by the way, is the main reason why Othello is so nervous about the delay. His wife was unfaithful, and the businessman calls up a young, plump and cheerful hit man (Tommy Dose), who is supposed to teach the disloyal wife a deathly lesson. But as the stewardess (Madelyn Schwartz) shows up and announces that the cleaning of the snow will take at least, ten hours, which sounds a lot like New York City during the blizzard that took place last year after Christmas, the killing has to be postponed until Othello gets there. The businessman has nothing else to do but to hang in there.

Or, as he intends to, hang out with Georgia in his car, which she chastely refuses offering an affirmation to instead.

“To hell with the affirmation,” Othello must think, turning to a magazine about cars.

Not concentrating on the main characters only, the audience notices that thehHit man is a jolly young guy who doesn’t seem suited to be a killer. He has a funny Eastern European accent and makes sexy movements with his hips when singing. He is not eager to murder Othello’s wife, and his skills leave plenty of room for doubts, as he confesses to the viewers, “Every time I try to shoot, I always hit my boot.” In short, he is delighted with the delay and pretends to be looking forward to another phone call.

One more thing that the audience points out is that the stewardess possesses an amazing soprano, as she reveals how lonely she is. Here the audience dreams that she will hook up with the hit man, who is also lonely and has a nice voice, too. But for now, she does her job at Destiny Airlines and does her best to treat their VIP passengers with a lot of attention.

By the way, the name of the company, Destiny Airlines is not symbolic only for the stewardess. Through Georgia’s meditation, the hours spent in the airport soften Othello’s heart, and he almost becomes a new person, to everyone’s relief.

Singing their beautiful arias about love, forgiveness and virtue accompanied by Charles Mandracchia’s music (he is three in one: a composer, director and producer), the actors illuminate the audience with their constructive energy and kind affirmations. And the performance sounds like a short vivacious piece for the piano, which leaves us hoping that the world around us is just as bright and praiseworthy as they portrayed it.

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