Mixed Nuts has Cranston Connection

By Don Fowler

By day, he is the director of bands at Cranston East High School; by night, he transforms into one of the Mixed Nuts. Mark Colozzi invited me to Luigi's in Johnson to witness this zany interactive cabaret, a little over an hour of nonstop comedy, music and audience participation.

Cranstonian Kevin Sullivan serves as Master of Ceremonies, warming up the crowd as the waitpersons clear the tables. "Every night is different," Kevin said. "Tonight the crowd is mostly seniors. Tomorrow we are at the Castle Cinema, and we'll adjust to a younger audience."

Kevin is quick on his feet, getting the attention of an audience that has just finished a big meal, had a few drinks, and is still looking at dessert. He picks on a guy at the front table, to the delight of the rest of the senior center group. And there's always the woman with the loud cackle. And the bald guy.

The people from Johnston are always fair game, but this night there's a guy from West Greenwich to pick on. Sullivan has that sixth sense, knowing how far to go and who is a good target. For some audience members, it is their five minutes of fame... and they make the most of it.

Kim Frenze, Nancy Hillner and Brian Hopkins on keyboards round out the talented troupe.

The show is risque´ but doesn't go over the line. The actors spend time feeling out their audience and know the limits. Things might go in a different direction at the Castle, depending on the crowd.

All six are very good at impersonations, which include Dick Clark, Julia Child, Cher, Tom Jones and a dozen more. A collection of wigs and colorful costumes add to the fun.

Involving the audience in the show is a risky business. The Mixed Nuts cast never pushes, involving those who wish to join them on stage for a game of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" or "The Weakest Link." A combination Gilligan's Island/Survivor skit is a riot. Colozzi closes the show on a serious note, with a rousing rendition of Lee Greenwood's "I'm Proud to be an American," that had the sold-out audience at Luigi's on their feet.

Mixed Nuts will be back at Luigi's on August 1. Reservations are now being accepted, and seating is limited. Dinner and show is $32.95. It's a fun evening out for a small group of seniors, an anniversary party, or just a bunch of friends. Mixed Nuts performs at various venues around the state, in addition to doing fundraisers, private parties, corporate events and other parties. They'll fit their show to your needs. You can call them at 944-9911, or email them at

www. mixednutscabaret.com.

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