BWW Review: GROUNDLINGS ROYAL WEDDING - An Absolutely Regal Laugh Fest
GROUNDLINGS ROYAL WEDDING/written by The Groundlings/directed by Deanna Oliver/Groundlings Theatre/thru June 30, 2018
With their latest Friday and Saturday night show GROUNDLINGS ROYAL WEDDING, the vastly talented Groundlings troupe has done it again with much responding side-splitting laughter to their funny, funny in-house scripts, their comic timing and expert delivery. The comedically gifted cast of ten whip through a program of fifteen entertaining skits sharply directed by Deanna Oliver.
As I have come to learn in reviewing and enjoying many a Groundlings show, titles have nothing to do with the content of the skits of the show - not a one. Titles exist as total non sequiturs. The only aspect of the title you can always count on - GROUNDLINGS. With GROUNDLINGS in the title, you expect a show with much hilarity. So it surprised and tickled me to no end when this show opened with "English Rose," a skit of three British woman commoners talking total trash of Meghan and Harry's upcoming nuptials. Patty Guggenheim, Greg Worswick and Eliot Schwartz (all with 'proper' British accents) sip tea while reading the endless newspaper articles on the Royal wedding. After much dissing of the newlyweds, they come upon an article stating that one hundred lucky commoners will be invited to the ceremonies. With a slip of an invitation under their front door, the immediate about-face of these three gossip biddies brings much attitude whiplash to all. Their most joyous enthusiasm spreads contagiously throughout the audience. Guggenheim, Worswick and Schwartz totally nail this skit they all had a hand in writing.
Each individual has their moment to shine on stage, usually in the piece they themselves wrote. Or at other times, they generously provide able back-up support to the their fellow lead, allowing them to take their spotlight.
Andrew Leeds writes "The Homecoming" and portrays the wayward son coming back home to his sympathetic mom (Lauren Burns) and disapproving dad (Kiel Kennedy). Away from his hometown, Leeds makes his living in Los Angeles as a dancer (for $14 for five minutes). His demonstration of dance moves can only be described as hysterically dorky. The very stoic Kennedy finally cracks mid-sketch, jumping the hilarity up to a hyper level.
Allison Dunbar dominates in her solo in her "Zero Fuks" as she leads various audience members through her self-help book lecture.
"Breakfast in Bed" has Michael Churven bringing breakfast in bed for his girlfriend Guggenheim. Churven can't understand why Guggenheim has her hands covering her face. Apparently in all the time they've been together, he's never seen her without her make-up. With much reassurance that he would love her as much with or without make-up, Guggenheim reveals her very pale-as-a-ghost complexion (done so respectfully). Churven's controlled facial expressions of disapproval convey way more than his vocal approvals. Churven's expressions' simply priceless!
In "The News," Tony Cavalero's exuberance over good news piled on top of great news builds and builds to a surprising/welcome crescendo.
The Leeds/Churven-penned "The System" has these two comic whizzes singing gibberish in training two new co-workers, the very game but understandably confused Guggenheim and Dunbar.
Croner and Churven limn a newlywed couple applying for Churven's green card in "Marriage Interview." Their matching answers to interrogator Kennedy push simultaneously both the laugh and 'Awww' buttons.
Dunbar and Kennedy's "Vanilla" on a three-way with Guggenheim has to be the most surprisingly unexpected skit. Reactions of laughing mix with equal parts "He's screwed!"
Evening ends with a group sketch "Buddy Bench" led by Burns and Cavalero as horny (Burns) and not (Cavalero) uproarious nerds.
And, as always for the Friday/Saturday shows, The Groundlings Band (Greg Kanaga on drums, Larry Treadwell on guitar, and musical director Matthew Loren Cohen on keyboards) provide fantastic musical interludes for the very smooth set changes. This smoking trio pre-show with a medley of Queen hits - "We Will Rock You," "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "We Are the Champions." Always, ALWAYS want to hear more music from these musicians.
A most ROYAL way to spend a Friday or Saturday night!