BWW Review: Tuesday Night THE PACK Laugh Fests Feature An Ever-Changing Cast of Local And Celebrity Artists
Emmy nominated and Drama Desk award winning writer Eugene Pack, who is also the creator of the hit show "Celebrity Autobiography" which made its Broadway debut last year, is generating tons of fun and laughter on Tuesday nights at theaters around Los Angeles with THE PACK, his monthly reading series of his own original short comedies which he also directs. The series has been building a huge following and is attracting outstanding talent in LA along with Special Celebrity Guests.
Each month is a different presentation: the material, the casts and even the venue varies. Audiences can enjoy 90 minutes of brand-new comedic readings, book in hand, each month by a wide range of performers including Cecily Strong, Steven Weber, Jennifer Tilly, Laraine Newman, Barry Bostwick, Diedrich Bader, Jon Tenney, Dana Gould, Roz Ryan, Peter Asher, Drew Droege, and many more.
I attended my first THE PACK Evening of Short Plays at The 11:11 in West Hollywood on Tuesday, July 30 at 7:30pm and enjoyed all four group readings immensely. Narrated by Rebecca Lane, the talented cast members walked up and took their seats onstage, reading Pack's stories from scripts that filled the house with laughter from start to finish. Certainly you can see yourself in many of his quirky characters! It was unfortunate, however, that the theater was so hot that night, which I hope will not be the case at other upcoming venues.
The four readings in THE PACK on July 30 featured Special Guests:
Jim Beaver is an actor, playwright, screenwriter, and film historian. He is most familiar to worldwide audiences as Bobby Singer in Supernatural. He also played Whitney Ellsworth on the HBO Western drama series Deadwood.Arden Myrin is an actress and comedian. Myrin plays Regina Sinclair on the Netflix series Insatiable.
"Trent" - Two caterers, Maddie and Edward (Arden Myrin and Drew Droege), sit and discuss how the event is to be organized that evening, right down to the necessary, diagonal placement of hors d'oevres to appease the fussy hostess. Taking direction from Mimi (Laraine Newman) who is stationed in the company's catering van, the two are soon joined by "Trent" (Diedrich Bader), a handsome young man who is working the event as a temp. Both Maddie and Edward are immediately enchanted by him, then proceed to a game of who will win the lifelong attention of such a catch. Comedy ensues as their fantasies take on many similar dreams we all have when first meeting the person we think will complete our lives.
"The Tux" - This was my favorite story of the night, centering on Aaron (Bradley White), a young man who has taken his 10-year old and too-small tux into the same tailor (Don Moss) who originally created it for him. Of course, not having seen Aaron in 10 years, Morgan digs for personal information as he takes Aaron's measurements, while taking a real interest as to why Aaron's marriage broke up when things looked so hopeful back then. What makes this piece so incredibly funny is the comfort level the two actors have with one another, especially Moss's dead pan delivery of comeback lines with knowing double takes at the audience, all which delivered some of the best laughs of the evening.
"Sunny Pumps" - This story of pursuing your dream career as opposed to just earning a living to keep a roof over your head certainly rang true with all the actors in the audience. Married couple Abe and Kendall (Randy Vasquez and Terry Walters) are considering updating their home with solar power, an expense they know will save them money in the long run. But when the technician arrives (Jim Beaver as M), Abe is convinced he is Emmett Howard, a movie star whose old films he has been watching on TCM. Hilarity ensues as the two men discuss why following your dream career may be more difficult, as well as rewarding, with each making a decision by the end that will change their lives, with Pack delivering the bunch with an unexpected twist at the end.
"Vie En Rose" - Taking place at a coffee shop managed by Winn (Drew Droege) where lonely singleton Emily (Dayle Reyfel) hangs out every morning, we are there on the day new French barista Guy (Randy Vasquez) merely utters "Bon Jour" to her and takes Emily's breath away. Convinced Guy is the love of her life, Emily begins a mission to learn to speak French in less than three days so she can speak with Guy in his language the next time he prepares her latte. Comedy ensues as Emily meets with Francesca (Corinne Shor) for quickly French lessons and then attends a small café where Marcella (Constance Forslund) pretends to be French onstage to great comic effect. Reyfel learns how to communicate the essence of what it means to be French as she sings the story's title song, but will she be able to impress Guy with her new communication skills. The twist at the end proves to Emily she really can make it on her own, generated thunderous applause from the audience to end the evening.
Join THE PACK for their next night of comedy with special guest artist Cecily Strong from Saturday Night Live on Tuesday, August 13 at 7:30pm at the Ruskin Group Theatre at 3000 Airport Ave., Santa Monica 90405 (within Santa Monica Airport, with free onsite parking). Tickets are $10 online in advance at email@example.com or $15 at the door. More information can also be found on Facebook.