Both of this week’s comedies are “off the charts” on the laugh-o-meter!


For a wee break from the worries of today’s world, see them both!

A Don’t Hug Me County Fair

(L to R): Tom Lommel, Judy Heneghan, Tom Gibis, Katherine Brunk and Brad MacDonald in “A Don’t Hug Me County Fair.”

(L to R): Tom Lommel, Judy Heneghan, Tom Gibis, Katherine Brunk and Brad MacDonald in “A Don’t Hug Me County Fair.”

A whacky musical-comedy World Premiere in No Ho, with pre- bookings in 7 U.S. cities to immediately follow… this is a “howl-a-minute” hoot! Playwright Phil Olson (book and lyrics) and his brother Paul (music) have gathered a huge following through the years with their maniacally hilarious romps about small town Minnesota folks! Raised in Edina, Minnesota (population 50,000) themselves, Phil’s outlandish characters often mirror people they actually knew or met: simple and honest quirky folks who are oblivious to the world outside their own circle and who view life, happiness and success much differently than we big-city types. As written here, they are endearingly sweet and indescribably funny! With sort of a “Northern Exposure” meets “Fargo” vibe (on mind altering drugs…), they all sound like Sarah Palin to me. Following the phenomenal success of “Don’t Hug Me” and “A Don’t Hug Me Christmas,” which both toured the U.S., this is the third in the series. In my opinion, this one is the most outrageously zany and riotously entertaining of the trio! Taking place in Gunner and Clara John-son’s little bar in Bunyon Bay (“fab“ set by Chris Winfield), the Bunyon County Fair is the talk of the town. The coveted title of “Miss Walleye Queen” is up for grabs and will “honor” the winner with a sculpture of her face carved in butter. Clara enters the competition to revive Gunners affection. Bernice (the pretty waitress) enters it, hoping to be discovered as a singing star. And Gunners estranged twin sister (a beefy forest ranger) suddenly blows into town to also vie for the crown. Insanity and thunderous laughter explodes! The savvy design team includes:  Director Doug Engalla, who energetically makes the most of every opportunity for “belly laughs,” Stan Mazin (choreographer) who “moves” the agile cast around like magic pretzels, and lighting wizard Peter Strauss. The kooky costumes (unaccredited) are also great fun! The 16 songs are too funny to describe, with titles like “My Campfire Is Burning for You,” “Pontoon Ladies,” and “I Lll-urv Her.” Lastly, let’s talk about the excellent (but deranged) cast… flawless, all! Tom Lommel as Kanute and Brad MacDonald as Aarvid are hysterically dorky as each “Romeo” spars to win the heart of the lovely Bernice. As Bernice, Katherine Brunk is a perky and “squeaky clean” delight (and this little wide-eyed filly can really sing)! Judy Heneghan will win your heart as Gunner’s long-time wife longing for a bit of “pizazz” in their marriage. And Tom Gibis nearly steals the show in a dual role. Playing both the macho, unromantic Gunner and his man hungry, unattractive twin sister Trigger, his split second transitions are amazing! Repeatedly changing his clothing, hair, voice, persona and sex, he is brilliant “beyond bonkers!” As always in the Olson brothers’ sagas, the pace is swift, the visuals are a scream and the story is sillier than silly! You’ll laugh till your cheeks hurt! Running through March 29th at the Lonny Chapman Group Rep Theatre – 10900 Burbank Blvd. in North Hollywood. Call (818) 700- 4878.

Surviving Sex

‘Stan’ (Jeff Marlow) gets a provocative invitation from his blind date, ‘Lenore’ (Dana Green), in “Surviving Sex” at the Falcon Theatre.

‘Stan’ (Jeff Marlow) gets a provocative invitation from his blind date, ‘Lenore’ (Dana Green), in “Surviving Sex” at the Falcon Theatre.

A ‘’strictly for laughs,“ fluffy, little adventure, exploring the ever confusing, always titillating, battle of the sexes… this one is a lot of fun! Cleverly written, shooting one hilarious zinger after another, by David Landsberg, the audience roared with laughter! On a gorgeous set, by Keith Mitchell, the play opens with Stan, a “regular guy” accountant, breaking the fourth wall. “Kvetching” about his live-in, rocky relationship with aspiring actress Denise and referring to us as “his people,” he personally chats with us many times throughout the story; very funny! When Denise and her acting class partner Sid rehearse a steamy sex scene in front of Stan, he tosses her out of his house. Left miserable, lonely and confused about romance, his married buddy Larry tries to console him, as the two lament the hopeless differences between men and women. When Lenore, a sexy blind date (set up by Larry) arrives at the door with a lively libido and kinky intentions, our bewildered Stan becomes further frazzled! By the time Larry’s wife Jennifer gets involved, the crazy story has taken a wildly unexpected turn! Sound whacky? Believe me, it is! Under the well-paced, fun lovin’ direction of Susan Morgenstern, this fine, young cast gives screamingly funny performances! Jeff Marlow is panicked perfection as Stan, Peter Story is loveably looney as Larry and Steve Coombs is muscled madness as Sid. Depicting “Le Femme,“ Amy Handelman is a spoiled, pouty princess as Denise, Mandy June Turpin is bodaciously believable as the fed-up Jennifer and Dana Green is simply too hot to handle as the naughty Lenore with her own lovelorn past to process. Six playful and spirited performances in a nutty script, clearly written to “fracture our funny bones!” For a comically relatable and visually gut-busting good time, check it out. You’re sure to recognize some of the pitfalls that exist beneath the elusive dance of love! Running through March 1st at the Falcon Theatre – 4252 Riverside Dr. in Toluca Lake. Call (818) 955- 8101.

Back next week with another duo of theatrical choices…


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