BWW Reviews: Hit Comedy BOB'S HOLIDAY OFFICE PARTY Wreaks Havoc at the Pico Playhouse.
It just wouldn't be Christmas in Los Angeles without BOB'S HOLIDAY OFFICE PARTY bringing a lot of deranged hilarity into the mix. Fortunately the show is back for its eighteenth year of putting the laughter, as well as a bit of a drunken mess, into the holiday season. This year's smashed hit is directed by Justin Tanner, who has so much deviant behavior going on it would probably take half a dozen viewings to catch all the riotous bits! Be sure to enjoy the festive set before the show starts because once the actors arrive, it will never be the same!
For the uninitiated, the action of the play is set in the office of insurance salesman Bob Finhead of Finhead Insurance in Neuterburg, Iowa (population 382). As the name of the play implies, Christmas is coming soon, which means that Bob is getting ready to throw his annual gathering at his insurance office for his friends and associates.
But as the holidays approach, Bob has misgivings about his life since what he really wanted to become an inventor. His inventions, of course, are the most inane and silly items you can imagine, including a key chain with a bottle of cheap booze attached to it promoting his insurance business. Talk about an ambulance chaser!
As the play progresses, the Neuterburgers assemble at Bob's office to do what they do best: party and drink and party and drink and party and drink and party and drink. And what a bunch of characters they are, most of whom have already been drinking at the town's local waterhole hole, The Tip Top, before they even get to Bob's.
Several roles are double cast with the actors noted playing the roles on December 5.
To complicate matters, Bob (Rob Elk, who wonderfully portrays the most straight-laced and professional businessman in town, milking every laugh for all it is worth) is carrying on a flirtation with the mayor's wife, Margie (Liz Davies), while the mayor (David Bauman) himself is busy accommodating a male house guest. Everyone in town knows what's going on, but that does not seem to make any difference to anyone. Tonight everyone just wants to party and get drunk. Bring on the Andy Williams and Tennessee Ernie Ford records - and remember there is a clapper crapper behind the off-the-hinges door.
Joe (Joe Keyes), the alcoholic town sheriff, is attracted to Brandy, the town party girl who is the twin sister of Carol, the minister's foul-mouthed, emotionally disturbed wife. Colleen Wainwright is a hoot and completely transforms herself so thoroughly it is difficult to believe the same actress is playing both roles! And Keyes delivers some of the best one-liners in the show with just the right amount of distain and sincerity.
There's one other set of twins in town, La Donna (Johanna McKay) and La Voris Johnson (Linda Miller), wealthy farmers who are proud members of the Neuterburg Tea Party. These two women dress alike, finish each other sentences, and proceed to get so drunk they both seduce the town sheriff together from the dance floor straight to passing out on top of one another on the couch. One particularly hilarious bit leading up to the seduction involved two funnels and a bottle of scotch.
Also dropping in are Marty (Cody Chappel), the town stoner, a lazy handyman and an expert in all things UFO related, and Elwin Bewee (Michael Halpin). Elwin was a magnet for bullies while he was growing up, but left town to become a wealthy tycoon. And now he's back to wreak havoc as he attempts to take his revenge on the town's inhabitants who did him wrong.
Will Bob ever travel on the path of his ambition? Can he really leave his home town for greener pastures? Will Elwin get his revenge on the town? I won't spoil the fun - you will have to see the show yourself and laugh your way through to see how the town's inhabitants survive the party! I am sure there is a lot going on that is planned as the organized disorderly party antics occur constantly in every corner of the set, but these talented actors no doubt add in more with each show to keep each other on their toes. And all I can say is, Jennifer Bendik and Kriss Meier, the stage managers, will have one helluva time cleaning up the drunken mess after each performance!
BOB'S HOLIDAY OFFICE PARTY Written by Joe Keyes and Rob Elk. Directed by Justin Tanner. Produced by Elk, Keyes, Charlie Loventhal and Julian McMahon. McMahon will moderate a talk-back with the cast after the Saturday, December 14 performance. At the Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064. From December 4-22, 2013. Wed.- Sat. at 8:00, Sun. at 7:00. Saturday, December 7 is sold out.
ADMISSION: Wed. and Thurs. $20. Fri., Sat, Sun., $25.
RESERVATIONS: (800) 838-3006. ONLINE TICKETING: www.brownpapertickets.com/event/467753
ESTIMATED RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes, no intermission.
CONSUMER ADVISORY: Suggested for audiences 16 to adult.
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Rob Elk (l.), Joe Keyes. Credit: Roger Nygard.