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Updated: Mafioso clowns a perfect fit at Fringe Fest

clown

Carmine "the Clown" Difazzio isn’t actually a clown. He simply suffers from a rare condition called "Clownopecia," which renders his skin white, his nose red and his feet very large.

Such a condition would be stressful enough on its own. But when you’re also part of a dangerous Mafia family, you’re in love with the daughter of the Don of that family and you are continuously nagged by the ghost of your dead mother, then you’ve got the premise of Send in the Clown, opening Thursday night at Playhouse Nola (3214 Burgundy St.) as part of this year’s New Orleans Fringe Festival.

“It’s kind of a mixture of Goodfellas meets Othello meets Bozo,” says Ace Denison, the play’s writer and director.

The idea for Send in the Clown began as just a sketch idea says Denison, who is also an actor and comedian. “You think of Jimmy 'the Nose' or Johnny 'the Ears’,” the actor/comedian, 40, says. “So what if somebody had a skin condition that made him look like a clown?”

Veteran New Orleans film and television actor Johnny Rock makes his stage debut as Don Angelo, the head of the family who takes Carmine under his wing as a youth.

“Man, I’m loving it,” Rock says of preparing for a play. He’s also a fan of Playhouse Nola. “It’s a real intimate setting. The audience is right on top of you.”

Showtimes for Send in the Clown are Thursday, November 20, 9 p.m.; Friday, November 21, 7 p.m.; Saturday, November 22, 7 and 9 p.m.; and Sunday, November 23, 7 p.m.

Tickets are sold first-come, first-serve at the door for $8 or online at www.nofringefest.org. (A one-time purchase of a $3 Fringe Fest button is also required for all Fest shows.)

The New Orleans Fringe Festival nurtures emerging and established performing artists by presenting fun, fearless and affordable theater to the community and creating ties between artists, audiences, businesses and local organizations.

*A previous version of this story erroneously misstated performance dates for "Send in the Clown." The performance schedule has since been edited to reflect the correct dates.

Brian Friedman writes about New Orleans for NolaVie.