Tyler Payment portrays Vito Corleone in a rehearsal for “The Codfather” on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at Kenai Catering in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Tyler Payment portrays Vito Corleone in a rehearsal for “The Codfather” on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at Kenai Catering in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Sleeping with the fishes

Triumvirate’s “The Codfather” puts Kenai Peninsula spin on Coppola classic

Triumvirate Theatre will stage its 16th Annual Dinner Theatre & Art Auction this weekend, putting a Nikiski-flavored take on the iconic Corleone family in “The Codfather.”

At first glance, “The Codfather” appears as a very faithful — if truncated — adaptation of Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather,” except Triumvirate’s Corleone family are cast as “the most influential dealers of oil field service equipment and fishing tackle on the North Road.”

The Codfather himself, Vito Corleone, is played by Tyler Payment. He has connections to members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, and he has the kind of sway it takes to blackmail Joe Rizzo — playing himself — to make favorable casting decisions in the next big Triumvirate production.

Payment said he leapt at the opportunity to play Vito in the production, an opportunity to “transform” himself into a facsimile of the iconic Marlon Brando character.

“I obviously love ‘The Godfather,’ it’s one of my favorite movies,” Payment said Tuesday. “I’m a big (Marlon) Brando fan, but his portrayal, in particular in that role, is really powerful. He has a physical change in his body when he’s on screen.”

Payment even brings the “Godfather” accent.

“It’s a little nasally. You jut your jaw out like a bulldog, and you just kind of talk,” he said. “He cuts a lot of words off; it’s just a fun accent to do.”

Payment credited Chris Jenness with “a phenomenal job” writing “The Codfather,” remaining faithful and infusing the troupe’s humor and local culture.

Jenness said that between the annual dinner theater and the biannual political comedy show, he and the other writers who work on the Triumvirate productions have gotten a lot of practice.

He said since he’s adapting a known and recognizable film, he can start with an iconic scene, then just write his way through it “as though I’m watching the movie,” adapting each line to fit.

Jenness said that each year, folks throw out ideas for titles until one sticks. That’s how “The Codfather” came to life.

Adapting a three-hour-long film — part of an even longer trilogy — into 45-minute dinner theater isn’t without its challenges. So, Jenness said that they cast Shaylon Cochran as director Francis Ford Coppola, regularly cutting off scenes and writing out characters live in the show.

Another fun addition, Jenness said, was Joe Spady as Johnny Fontane, the singer — adding a musical number to the production.

Though he served as this year’s writer, Jenness will also take part in the show as Salazzo, who in “The Godfather” approached Vito with a proposal to get the Corleones into narcotics. In “The Codfather,” he wants the Corleones to get into a more controversial industry — dipnetting.

Though the cast is largely dressed in dark suits, a ray of color is AnnMarie Rudstrom’s Kay, adorned in a bright red dress. True to the film, Rudstrom said Kay is “naive,” uninitiated in the dealings of the Corleone family until the end.

Rudstrom said “The Codfather,” like other fish-themed Triumvirate dinner theater of the past, is a fun opportunity to get the community laughing.

“Making those connections from the original movie to our local politics and people who live in our community — putting those fingers in there that make people resonate with it a little bit more,” she said.

Triumvirate Theatre’s “The Codfather” has already sold out.

For more information about Triumvirate Theatre and their upcoming productions, visit triumviratetheatre.org or facebook.com/triumviratetheater.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

Tyler Payment portrays Vito Corleone in a rehearsal for “The Codfather” on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at Kenai Catering in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Tyler Payment portrays Vito Corleone in a rehearsal for “The Codfather” on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at Kenai Catering in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Tyler Payment, as Vito Corleone, acts alongside Shaylon Cochran as Francis Ford Coppola during a rehearsal of “The Codfather” on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at Kenai Catering in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Tyler Payment, as Vito Corleone, acts alongside Shaylon Cochran as Francis Ford Coppola during a rehearsal of “The Codfather” on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at Kenai Catering in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

AnnMarie Rudstrom plays Kay Adams, Kate Schwarzer plays Connie Corleone, Chris Pepper plays Michael Corleone, and Cooper Kelley plays Carlo Rizzi during a rehearsal of “The Codfather” on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at Kenai Catering in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

AnnMarie Rudstrom plays Kay Adams, Kate Schwarzer plays Connie Corleone, Chris Pepper plays Michael Corleone, and Cooper Kelley plays Carlo Rizzi during a rehearsal of “The Codfather” on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at Kenai Catering in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Joe Spady portrays Johnny Fontane during a rehearsal of “The Codfather” on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at Kenai Catering in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Joe Spady portrays Johnny Fontane during a rehearsal of “The Codfather” on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at Kenai Catering in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Tyler Payment, as Vito Corleone, acts alongside Joe Spady as Johnny Fontane and Jamie Nelson as Tom Hagen during a rehearsal of “The Codfather” on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at Kenai Catering in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Tyler Payment, as Vito Corleone, acts alongside Joe Spady as Johnny Fontane and Jamie Nelson as Tom Hagen during a rehearsal of “The Codfather” on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at Kenai Catering in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Tyler Payment, as Vito Corleone, acts alongside Joe Spady as Johnny Fontane during a rehearsal of “The Codfather” on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at Kenai Catering in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Tyler Payment, as Vito Corleone, acts alongside Joe Spady as Johnny Fontane during a rehearsal of “The Codfather” on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at Kenai Catering in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Joe Rizzo portrays himself in a rehearsal for “The Codfather” on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at Kenai Catering in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Joe Rizzo portrays himself in a rehearsal for “The Codfather” on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at Kenai Catering in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Chris Jenness, Chris Pepper, Josh Ball, Tyler Payment and Matt Wilson rehearse “The Codfather” on Tuesday, April 18, 2023 at Kenai Catering in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Chris Jenness, Chris Pepper, Josh Ball, Tyler Payment and Matt Wilson rehearse “The Codfather” on Tuesday, April 18, 2023 at Kenai Catering in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Tyler Payment, as Vito Corleone, acts alongside Joe Spady as Johnny Fontane and Jamie Nelson as Tom Hagen during a rehearsal of “The Codfather” on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at Kenai Catering in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Tyler Payment, as Vito Corleone, acts alongside Joe Spady as Johnny Fontane and Jamie Nelson as Tom Hagen during a rehearsal of “The Codfather” on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at Kenai Catering in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

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