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Review: The Second City's 112th Mainstage Revue

The revue plays an open run.

By: Jun. 14, 2024
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The Second City’s 112th Mainstage Revue, THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETOURS, promises “weird, sexy comedy” in its opening moments. This ensemble definitely hits on the weird and occasionally hits on the funny. I think this revue, while not always consistently funny, gave this ensemble some real moments to shine. And as with past Second City revues I’ve seen, the show’s mix of sketch and improv has lively energy, and the wide variety of sketches presented made me curious to see what comes next.

Directed by Mainstage alum Rob Wilson, this ensemble features returning performers Andy Bolduc, Jordan Stafford, and Laurel Krabacher alongside Mainstage newcomers Adonis Holmes, Hannah Ingle, and Adisa Williams. All six cast members rely heavily on facial expressions and voice works to distinguish their characters across sketches; I’ve seen more heightened physical acting choices from past ensembles, but they overall remain extremely committed to their bits. That’s an essential trait to sell this kind of comedy, and even when I thought the sketches fell flat, the cast members played their characters boldly and offered that classic improvisational support to one another (they even broke a few times, which is honestly a joy to see because it shows how much fun they’re having).

As is often the case, I was most impressed — and laughed the most — at the sketches that incorporated improv. Ingle, Stafford, and Holmes close out the first act with a terrific sketch in which she plays a model talent scout and Stafford and Holmes play experienced models. The trio wants fresh talent...and they seek it from an audience member. Ingle, Stafford, and Holmes’s character work was sublime in this sketch, and they brought audience member “Trixie Jean” (his model name) into the fold easily. 

Williams and Stafford are equally great in the act two opener, in which they play a six times divorced/seven times married couple performing a 3 a.m. set at a La Quinta Inn. The duo deftly improvised lyrics based on the cues “Polly Pocket” and “Late night emails.” I was particularly impressed by Williams’s incorporation of the “Polly Pocket” suggestion into the song. Both ensemble members have a great rapport, and I appreciated their ability to develop rhyming lyrics on the fly. 

While some of the fully scripted sketches weren’t as laugh-out-loud funny, I thought they had clever moments. Stafford and Holmes were especially amusing as two elderly Chicago Public library librarians dealing with a rather disastrous day at the library. Likewise, Williams shines in the Sesame Street parody “Finance Boulevard,” in which various puppets pop by to introduce her to the horrors of 2024 living. 

Other sketches had more mixed results. In “Sexy People Selling Houses,” Ingle, Krabacher, and Stafford parody reality shows like “Selling Sunset” — the sketch starts off strong but then has the realtors devolving into non-sequiturs and introduces a bizarre twist at the end that went a bridge too far. Likewise, Bolduc and Krabacher gamely play two aspiring horseback riders — and lovers — in a sketch that’s clearly meant to parody Western romance novels...and then it becomes really weird for a really long time. 

Even though I didn’t care for some of the sketches, I think this revue delivers the kind of fun that’s consistent with The Second City brand. And this ensemble has the commitment and the improvisational chops needed for their craft. 

The Second City 112th Mainstage Revue plays an open run at 1616 North Wells. Tickets start at $39.

Photo Credit: Timothy M. Schmidt




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