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There’s no debate: Second City Detroit’s 24th comedy revue is great fun
I knew they could do it!
“Woodward to Your Mutha” is the third Second City Detroit mainstage production I’ve reviewed since Curtain Calls came to Between The Lines, and to be totally honest, I showed up at last week’s opening night with fairly low expectations.
It’s not that the group’s previous two efforts were bad; they simply weren’t my cup of tea.
From my perspective, Second City set its sight too low and had too narrow a focus when crafting “Jihad It Up To Here” and, to a lesser extent, “Less Talk, Motown.” The shows seemed to be written by 20-somethings for 20-somethings, and the all-too-often juvenile humor, cheap laughs and simplistic political points of view overshadowed the many fine segments scattered throughout the shows.
Although I left each show mildly entertained, I was also somewhat disappointed; I expected a higher-quality product from Second City’s extraordinarily talented writer/performers, and they didn’t deliver it.
So after much reflection, I simply chalked it up to this: Old farts like me aren’t Second City’s primary customer base, and as such, the troupe was only playing to its target audience.
And you certainly can’t fault them for that!
With “Woodward to Your Mutha,” however, they’ve proved me wrong!
Second City Detroit’s 10th anniversary production is a slickly staged and wonderfully balanced comedy revue that adults young and old alike will thoroughly enjoy.
Not every scene is a gem, of course; that’s the nature of improvisational comedy. But “Woodward to Your Mutha” offers theatergoers a finely-tuned blend of goofiness and insight that certainly kept the audience laughing from start to finish on opening night!
Much of the improvement, I suspect, is the work of director and native Detroiter Marc Warzecha. Currently on hiatus from Second City’s National Touring Company based in Chicago and the Second City Troupe housed at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, it appears that Warzecha’s goal was to craft a local production that could proudly stand beside those staged by its sibling Second Cities. If that was indeed his intention, then Warzecha has more than achieved his goal.
It’s Warzecha’s strong and insightful direction that helps set “Woodward to Your Mutha” apart from the previous two shows. His influence is quite easy to spot: No scene drags on long after the laughs have stopped; the propensity of a certain cast member to mug and upstage his fellow performers to get laughs has been nipped in the bud; and the roles have been nicely balanced so that no single performer dominates the evening. The result, then, is a beautifully-paced production that is tight in execution but loose enough to ebb and flow with the laughs!
Highlights of the evening include Topher Owen and Jelly as a “racially confused” interracial couple out on a first date; a typical day at K-Mart headquarters; Antoine McKay as Osama Bin Laden running amok in the United States; the Mayor of Hamtramck (Shawn Handlon) who declares war on Royal Oak when times get tough in his community; and the Special Girl phone sex operation where everyone chips in to satisfy their most difficult client.
Also featured in the show – and contributing fine performances, as well – are Suzan M. Gouine and Jeff Fritz.
Woodward to Your Mutha Presented Wednesday through Saturday at Second City Detroit, 2301 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets: $15 – $20. (313) 965-2222. http://www.olympiaentertainment.com. Rating: Highly recommended.