Curtain Calls XTRA

BTL Staff
By | 2003-09-25T09:00:00-04:00 September 25th, 2003|Uncategorized|

By John Quinn

{HEADER Review: ÔTenÕ
Ten Years at The Second City – Detroit}
I like my coffee. When coffee is fresh out of the pot, hot and aromatic, itÕs a treat for the senses and a tickle for the brain. I even like coffee that IÕve nuked in a microwave; while it may not be as fresh or as hot, but it still gives me that extra-special kick.
In celebration of the theaterÕs tenth anniversary, The Second City – Detroit presents a Òbest ofÓ retrospective. ItÕs titled, appropriately enough, ÒTen.Ó Featured are some favorite songs, scenes and sketches gleaned from the 24 reviews our local troupe has created since its founding in 1993. One might expect that this material would have gone a little stale; it may not be as hot, it may not be as fresh, but this ÒbestÓ is never stale. It tickles the funny bone as well as the brain.
If youÕve seen one of the million or so ÒBest of Saturday Night LiveÓ specials, you wonÕt feel lost at this show. The company has thoughtfully provided a video screen to the right of the stage to provide a reference to what year and which review a sketch originated, just like the captioning on TV. I kid you not: They even run the credits at the curtain call to give you that authentic Òat homeÓ feel. You WILL have to sit through a seemingly interminable prologue, clips of WDIVÕs televised special from opening night, 1993. DonÕt fret, thereÕs good stuff to come.
ItÕs actually surprising how easy it is to clue into the topical references, no matter how old, but The Second City thrives on giving comedy a homegrown flavor. Consider some of the review titles represented in this retrospective: ÒDown Riverdance,Ó from 1998; ÒGratiot Happens,Ó from 2000; or last seasonÕs ÒWoodward To Your Mutha.Ó Maybe itÕs true that the more things change, the more they stay the same. But then, good theater transcends time and place.
Under the direction of Marc Warzecha, the six-person ensemble demonstrates an almost uncanny sense of comic timing. We see a real understanding of the material and instinctive ability to ÒsellÓ the bits. Also welcome are some sidesplitting musical numbers, under the skillful guidance of musical director John Edwartowski. In an unexpected and powerful look at racism, weÕre reminded that improvisational sketch theater can have a more serious side.
On a more wistful note, no matter how good the retrospective is, itÕs still a RE-creation. The company is so faithful to the original material that an actor addressed within a scene is called by the original actorsÕ name, not ÒourÓ actorÕs name. The performers who thrive in this type of theater are above all creators. With a child-like trust they trot out their art for the audience. That ÒSee what I MADE for you!Ó emotion makes for a very special theatrical experience. One looks forward to seeing this company unleashed and performing its own material.

The bottom line: Ya gotta love a theater with a Zamboni in the lobby.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 25th anniversary.