Directed by Whitney Pintello, shows begin Aug. 3 at the Gilroy Grange
Published in the August 1 – 14, 2018 of Morgan Hill Life
South Valley audiences will find themselves mesmerized by the fun of watching three oddball characters manipulating each other in “Hypnosis!” The show launches the Pintello Comedy Theater’s latest season Aug. 3
The theater group was founded by the Pintello family 16 years ago and now has become a staple of comedy fans who watch performances at the Gilroy Grange Hall at 8191 Swanston Lane.
The show is directed by Whitney Pintello and focuses on an alcoholic stage hypnotist “The Great Gordo” (played by Nick Fryou) in the twilight of his career. At a performance, he randomly chooses a cop named Alan Briggs (played by Ronnie Misra) as his stooge. That hypnosis performance later leads to mind games involving the cop’s wife, Helen Briggs (played by Betsy Mochan). As the psychological stakes are raised, the audience realizes there can only be one winner. The show was written by British playwright David Tristram.
“Everything we do is a comedy, but this one has a thriller component,” Pintello said. “The cop visits the hypnotist later and wants him to help him in sort of a nefarious plan with his wife. As you get to know each of them, you’re not sure who is double-crossing who.”
Fryou and Misra have worked together in previous Pintello Comedy Theater shows such as “Love List” and “Skin Flick.” The actors have a “dynamite chemistry” with each other, Pintello said.
Hollister resident Mochan is a newcomer to the theater group. Pintello first noticed her perform in a play with Fryou and saw potential for her as the character Helen.
“I just love how tight-knit they are. All three of them have a lot of fun together,” she said. “It’s fun for me because we usually do comedies but it’s nice to have this extra component of the thriller.”
Tristram has written 29 plays and this is the first one produced by the Pintello Comedy Theater.
“’Hypnosis!’ could be done more seriously, but the more I read it and as we worked with comedic actors, they really found the humor in the show,” Pintello said.
Since 2003, Pintello Comedy Theater has performed more than 50 shows featuring more than 100 local actors from South Valley.
The Pintellos make sure their productions remain a family affair. Rod and Marion Pintello spent more than two decades producing local shows, including many with the South Valley Civic Theatre. Eventually, the married couple decided it was time to create their own place where they could personally introduce people to their own style of comedy theater. Their motto for their theater group is, “There’s something funny going on here!” And they make sure they deliver on that promise.
“Life can be heavy enough,” Whitney said. “Not all shows are the same style. Some shows are really broad pie-in-your-face fun, some contain really witty dialogue. We just want the audience to feel like they’re in our living room, kind of a family feel. We have enough drama in our lives these days that we’re happy to provide comic relief.”
Upcoming shows include the Neil Simon classic “The Odd Couple,” which opens in November. New Year’s Eve 2019 the group will open the comedy show “The Ladies Foursome” by one of Pintello Comedy Theater’s favorite playwrights, Norm Foster.
Fans of Pintello Comedy Theater come from throughout the Bay Area as well as San Benito and Monterey counties.
“I feel like we have really learned what our audience likes. It turns out they have a really wide variety of appetites,” Whitney said. “We worried we might offend them if there was any innuendo or there was anything too racy or too different. But it turns out people come back because they trust us to make them laugh. It’s affordable and it’ll fit in that two-hour span.”