Thursday, August 10, 2017
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Youngstown native Chris Leone will bring his family-friendly variety show to his hometown for the first time Saturday.
Dubbed “the smallest show in town” – all lower case for emphasis – the show can best be described as a mix of “A Prairie Home Companion” and “The Carol Burnett Show,” according to Leone. It will be performed at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Vic theater, 702 Mahoning Ave.
Leone, who has a construction company but is also a musician and comedian, is at the center of the show. The Ursuline High and Youngstown State University graduate developed and curated it as a showcase for local talent when he was living in San Francisco in the early 2000s. It had a successful run there for several years.
Leone relocated to Pittsburgh, where he rekindled the show early last year. It has been playing monthly to growing crowds at the Arcade Comedy Theater in downtown Pittsburgh.
For the Youngstown show, Leone has assembled a mix of performers that includes Mahoning Valley folks and some of the regulars from the Pittsburgh shows. The acts range from acoustic music, to improv comedy to storytelling.
The lineup of performers will feature Valley-based writer and musician Neno Perrotta, musical act the Cosmic Dreams and an interview with East Side barber Cosmo Pecchia.
It also will include improv comedy players from Pittsburgh’s Arcade Comedy Theater and music from “the smallest show’s” house band, the Spurs of the Moment (Carmen, Nick and Chris Leone, with special guest Lisbet Searle-White of Meadville, Pa.).
Grilled cheese sandwiches also have become a quirky part of the “smallest show” scene, and a grill master will be cranking them out at the Vic (donations will be accepted).
As for Pecchia – the barber has operated a barber shop on Oak Street for many decades and has seen a lot in that time. Leone will interview him during the show.
“He is in his 80s and still working,” said Leone. “I went to him when I was a kid. I will talk to him to get his perspective on things he has seen in his profession over the years. I know he’s got a lot of great stories. I’ve had plenty of conversations with him while he cut my hair.”
Appearances such as Pecchia’s are a normal part of “the smallest show.” Leone said he likes to find folks from the community who have good stories. It fits in with the warm and intimate nature of the show.
Although he hasn’t lived in the Valley for many years, Leone has produced, curated and emceed the annual Dom Leone Writing Competition Benefit/Variety Show at Ursuline High School for the past 25 years.