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Scr Has The Answer For The Curious

April 07, 1987|LYNNE HEFFLEY

Do you know when soap was invented? Who the world's tallest man is? How many slices are in the world's largest pizza?

South Coast Repertory's Young Conservatory Players have the answers in their slickly packaged revue "I Didn't Know That!" seen at the Orange County Performing Arts Center's Founders Hall over the weekend.

Written by Louis Moloney, Johnny Saldana, Joyce Chambers Selber and Rachel Winfrey, the show's one-note theme quickly wears thin, however, despite Dwight Richard Odle's sleek, bright set and witty costumes.

In a TV game show setting, complete with an ever-smiling emcee and the familiar "dumb blond" co-host, "I Didn't Know That!" passes out trivia culled from the Guinness Book of World Records. Three teams--the Yuppies, the Jocks and the Punks--compete to see who can answer the most questions.

Eighteen 11- to 17-year-olds perform with confidence and obvious enjoyment, acting out each answer. Question categories include Facts, Selected Oddities and World Records. We hear about the world's longest earthworms, the biggest ice cream sundae, the invention of the sandwich and a few favorite phobias.

Directed by Diane Doyle and Howard Shangraw, the cast members, graduates of South Coast Repertory's three-year theater arts training program for children, acquit themselves well. Clarity, though, is occasionally the victim of the show's game show loudness.

Martin Noyes, as one of the Jocks, is especially appealing in a sketch about one hapless fellow zapped by lightning seven times over a period of years. Noyes, perched high on a ladder, hurls lightning bolts with winning zeal.

The assembly line action, however, makes the show's 45 minutes seem twice that. Breaking up the format would help. Toward the end of the production, a commercial is thrown in--hostess Jessica Jeffries reads humorous new sponsor information from prompt cards. More of that would be welcome.

Emcee Jason Constantine manages to keep his game show host heartiness and toothy grin throughout, but when the "television studio" lights go out, we're as ready as his character is for the end of the show.

"I Didn't Know That!" will tour schools and community centers through April 29.

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