BWW Review: The Hysterical GROUNDINGS HOOK-UP APP - A Serious Connectivity To Your Funny Bones
GROUNDINGS HOOK-UP APP/written by The Groundlings/directed by Jordan Black/Groundlings Theatre/thru November 19, 2016
Groundlings' latest laugh-packed Friday & Saturday night show GROUNDINGS HOOK-UP APP had their packed house in the palms of their hands laughing hard and reacting loudly to every possible twist, turn and diss. Jordan Black deftly directed his very talented cast of eight comedians extraordinaire at a lightning pace covering 14 skits in a little less than two hours. As in Groundlings' custom, the writer of the skit usually takes the lead in it with the others in the troupe providing more than able support. And as a welcomed Groundlings' trait, each skit has a definitive ending (unlike a certain late night comedy sketch show). Each of these fantastic performers had their individual, as well as, collective moments to shine.
GROUNDINGS HOOK-UP APP opened with "Candy," an accident-prone exotic dancer totally inhabited by Lyric Lewis. Later, Lewis dominated the stage in "Leave Him" as a sympathetic nurse advising her upset patient, oh-so-composedly played by Jill Matson-Sachoff. How Matson-Sachoff managed to maintain her dead pan calm during all of Lewis' wonderfully, over-the-top passionate rants - Amazing! Matson-Sachoff did not break once character once here.
Matson-Sachoff used her aloofness well in "Joseph." She donned male drag to perform as Joseph at an America's Got Talent audition. Matson-Sachoff's perfect as the least likely auditionee to get pass the initial audition. Her Joseph is a simply horrible singer with an in-going personality. Her auditioner has got be the nicest auditioner ever, allowing her to take up even five minutes of his time. Kiel Kennedy sympathetically limned this compassionate interviewer.
Kennedy totally convinced as the German-accented millionaire just moved into a "McMansion" in Silver Lake with his very privileged, mini-skirted, high-high-heeled wife, deliciously enacted by Patty Guggenheim.
Guggenheims teamed up with Matson-Sachoff in "Handy Mart," as a pair of food demonstrators 'handing' out samples. Unbeknownst to their boss (Kennedy) who agreed to test them out, both have two rubber hands each. Watching these two attempt to pick up Ritz crackers and cheese squares with their stiff, unblending rubber fingers to give to their customers became a master class in physical comedy. Brava, Ladies!
In "Bus Stop," Lauren Burns initially appeared to be a meek, bookish type, but surprised all by standing up to a stalking clown (Kennedy). Burns switched effortlessly in seconds from a scared, defenseless soon-to-be victim to a full-on cussing in your face ball-buster. Nice!
Burns really got to command the stage as an acting coach in "Audition Technique." Could see traces of Carol Burnett in her manic teachings.
Laird Macintosh's magnificently center stage and in charge during "Zandar 9," or so he thought as the prisoners he's in charge of escape one-by-one.
In "Don't Look," Anne Lane wows as Blair witch apparition who lip-syncs to high-speed Busta Rhymes.
Kudos to Tony Cavalero for his "FriendinISIS" skit. Didn't think anything on ISIS could be funny! Cavalero portrays a captured god-loving, flamboyant consultant. His poofed blond hair and his frequent ballet poses and back kicks had the audience in hysterics.
The only improvisional sketch of the evening had Cavalero as a preening wrestler against Kennedy's Mr. Gentlemen in "Sticks and Stones." Competing wrestlers, their unscripted lines came out of a fish bowl full of audience suggestions for "Advice for the newlyweds." Too, too funny!!!
"Reception," had the majority of the cast as the wedding participants giving their toasting speeches. Things turned for the hilarity when mother of the groom (Matson-Sachoff) and the groom (Kennedy) performed their mother and son duet, both displaying strong vocal chops and synchronized bad dance moves. These two killed it, with the other giving totally appropriate disgusted expressions/reactions.
Everyone participated in the finale "Strangest Things," a laugh-filled spoof on the Netflix series 'Stranger Things." Written by Cavalero, he essayed the focal 5-year-old who frequently lost his bodily fluids, caught flying waffles in his mouth and somehow zapped humans at will.
The incredibly smoking Groundling Band (Greg Kanaga on drums, Larry Treadwell on guitar, and musical director Matt Cohen on keyboards) rocked the house during all the quick, efficient set changes. This rhythms and the riffs of the Groundling Band has got to be the only time I would ever wished that the set changes to take their time, so that more musical magic could be heard. Yeah!!!