VICENZA, Italy – This autumn, when Teatro Olimpico closes its 76th season of classic plays, the historic Italian theater will premiere “Americans in Vicenza” at the Soldiers’ Theatre on Caserma Ederle.
Col. Matthew Gomlak, U.S. Army Garrison Italy commander, announced the show recently during a red-carpet engagement at Teatro Olimpico.
“It is an absolute honor to represent the U.S. Army at such a prestigious site,” Gomlak said speaking from the stage of the world’s oldest covered theater, Vicenza’s iconic landmark designed by architect Andrea Palladio in 1580. “We are thrilled and look forward to partnering with the team at Teatro Olimpico. It promises to be an amazing opportunity for cross-cultural exchange.”
Invited by artistic director Giancarlo Marinelli, Gomlak spoke in Italian to 500 guests gathered for the presentation of the Olimpico’s fall program. Many famous Italian celebrities, to include actors, directors, artists, politicians and national sport legends attended the May 3 event.
“Performing arts is an area that we as Americans and you as Italians both hold dear,” Gomlak said. “It’s an important and relevant part of our human experience that we share.”
The theme of this year’s program is called “Stella Meravigliosa,” which means “wonderful star” in Italian. The season runs Sept. 21 to Oct. 21 and it features plays aimed at wide-ranging audiences as well as a series of collaborations and community engagements.
The on-post performance of "Americans in Vicenza" by Goffredo Parise will be Oct. 21. The show is based on a collection of short stories describing the arrival of the first Americans in town in 1955.
A supporter of the cultural partnership with the local American community, Marinelli recently visited Caserma Ederle on several occasions. He’d like to see Italian audience members on post as well, for a surprising and engaging performance acted in Italian and American, Marinelli said. The idea came to him watching a recent Soldiers' Theatre performance of the musical “Sister Act.”
“The night spent at the Soldiers' Theatre impressed my memory with two words – energy and sharing – that are two fundamentals of the very nature of performing,” Marinelli said.
Marinelli appreciated the energy coming from an extremely engaged audience, as well as from the actors and managers. He felt a constant mutual support between stage and audience, rare in performing, he said. American actors, all volunteers, took the stage “with the grit of lions facing the not easy task of performing in front of an audience,” he said.
“It was admirable how those Soldiers, civilian employees and family members faced the scene, coped with their fears, and how they precisely shared their fears with us, with the audience, with great joy and courage,” Marinelli said.
Community theater is a longstanding tradition in Army life, Gomlak said.
“With a rich mix of service members and civilians, local nationals and families, community theater brings people together,” he said. “The true benefits of community theater are the sense of family and providing a home to our Soldiers, family members and civilians in our military community.”