‘Ennio’ displays talent of man with thousand faces
By Daily Bruin Staff
Nov. 27, 2000 9:00 p.m.
Â Geffen Playhouse "Ennio," featuring Ennio
Marchetto, is a one-man presentation in which the actor
wears paper-only costumes of famous characters.
By Antero Garcia
Daily Bruin Contributor
Paper dolls with attachable clothing are usually reserved for
children, however, when created by a master for human attire, they
can become entertainment for adults.
“Ennio,” a one-man show starring Italian sensation
Ennio Marchetto, currently playing at the Geffen Playhouse,
consists of larger than life paper outfits. Marchetto, a
world-renowned celebrity impressionist, is acclaimed for his sole
use of paper as the medium for his costumes.
Clad in only a black leotard, heeled shoes and heavy douses of
eyeliner and lipstick, Marchetto leaves it up to carefully detailed
paper costumes to help him transform into well-known figures
ranging from Marge Simpson to Godzilla.
Although people may think that dressing up in paper doll outfits
isn’t a true theatrical performance, they should be
forewarned: Marchetto isn’t the average origami guru. He
takes paper and creates what appears to be perfect duplicates of
An example is Marchetto’s cartoon replica of the Pope.
Slowly lumbering around the stage, Marchetto captures the small
nuances of this character, such as his feeble walk, that make the
impression more than believable.
Â Geffen Playhouse Running Nov. 20th to Jan. 7th, the
one-man show "Ennio" will feature Ennio Marchetto
in two-dimensional roles of pop icons. Unfortunately, like most of
his other characters, the novelty of the Pope wears off quickly. To
make up for this lull, however, Marchetto skillfully unfolds part
of his costume and revives the show, transforming into a cheerful
Fidel Castro who gleefully sings “Guantanamera.”
The most appealing part of the show is wondering exactly what
kind of metamorphosis Marchetto will undergo next, and who he will
become. Marchetto encompasses a wide spectrum of both old and new
pop cultures; some of the characters he becomes include Janis
Joplin, Marilyn Monroe, Whitney Houston and even Luciano
Although the paper outfits are one dimensional, simply covering
the front of his body, they are magically brought to life as
Marchetto mimics the facial expressions of stars such as Lauren
Hill. Lip-singing to her hit “Doo Wop,” Marchetto
almost convinces the audience that they are watching a Grammy Award
performance. That is, he convinces them until he unfolds the
complex costume and smiles as Marge Simpson before quickly leaving
This seamless performance is not unexpected, as the program
states that Marchetto is not a beginner, having been first
discovered doing impressions 12 years ago at the Edinburgh Fringe
Although “Ennio” is a solo performance, Ennio works
with long time Dutch associate Sosthen Hennekam, who helps him
reinforce the durability of the fragile paper costumes. Hennekam,
billed as both designer and director, also aids Marchetto in
creating the complex costume transformations onstage.
With over 100 character impersonations in his repertoire,
Marchetto frequently changes the program for each of his
performances to suit the tastes of his patrons. However, choosing
which celebrities to portray seems to be no easy task, as Marchetto
stumbles over the generation gap with some of his impersonations
which may not be pleasing to all.
For instance, Marchetto receives mixed reactions from audiences
as controversial rapper Eminem, lip-synching “The Way I
Am.” Although younger patrons can laugh at the slight
mannerisms Marchetto displays, audiences unfamiliar with the
rapper, are bewildered by this impersonation.
This also occurs when Marchetto flawlessly becomes Marilyn
Manson and screeches out “The Beautiful People.” His
odd paper costume may shock some audience members into an early
Despite these small moments of discomfort, “Ennio”
is definitely a show that has appeal for all ages. It is also
amazing to see how quickly Marchetto is able to switch outfits
flawlessly without lowering the energy level present in the
theater. Between each impression, the lights dim for only five
seconds as Marchetto frantically changes from one paper outfit to
Marchetto’s performance, moves from one celebrity to
another while the audience applauds for more even after it ends.
This may not be entirely due to the witty Italian’s charm,
however. Because of the brief length of the performance, it seems
that before the audience is able to completely engulf the strange
ingenuity Marchetto displays, they must leave the theater.
Averaging approximately 70 minutes in length, “Ennio”
seems a bit too short.
Despite these slight problems, “Ennio” as a whole is
an excellent performance and well worth seeing. By the end of the
evening, the Geffen Playhouse stage looks like a disaster area.
Laying erratically on the stage are miscellaneous human limbs,
hair, sunglasses, a harmonica, chopsticks, and multitudes of
shredded color; of course all made of paper.
THEATER: “Ennio: Starring Ennio Marchetto” is
currently playing at the Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave.,
through Dec. 31. Performances are Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30
p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and Sunday
at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Ticket prices range from $20 to $42 and can be
purchased by calling (310) 208-5454 or Ticketmaster at (213)
365-3500. Student rush tickets for $10 are available 15 minutes
before the show begins. For more information visit www.geffenplayhouse.com.