YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

COMEDY REVIEW : Shortchanged on 'Money' : Way Off Broadway Profits From Improvisations but Is Impoverished in Sketches


SANTA ANA — Every once in a while someone decides that money is funny. It has been the subject of songs, plays and films. Now, Way Off Broadway is devoting an entire evening to it, from scripted sketches to improv.

How funny is "Money Makes the World Go 'Round"? Depends on your point of view. A lot of the sketches are media oriented, which general audiences might find a bit esoteric. WOB's tendency to overstate, overact and over-mug further reduces the material's potency.

There is little subtlety either in the writing, by various members of the company, or in the performing. Excess is the order of the evening whether it's the continuing saga of repulsive private eye Spit Phlegmster (a length of mucous dangling from his nostril) or another of those organ-slinging operating room capers WOB finds so amusing.

Some politically incorrect ethnic humor--including a reprise of an idea from an earlier show about two Jewish matrons hustling savings coupons--could be deleted without hurting the show.

The written material has something of an advantage in that director Tony Reverditto keeps it moving so fast that it doesn't get dull, except during those moments when the performers' concentration wanders or they look as though they're trying to remember their lines, which on opening night was often, prompting members of the audience to supply their own punch lines.

Still, the most honest laughs came during the improv sections, which Reverditto ran as smoothly as a TV show warm-up comic. His enthusiasm and persuasion saved these sections, and for once the audience participation was in keeping with the performance.

Out of the whole shebang, what worked best was a bit in which Reverditto and Karen Kawolics created dramatic scenes from audience-provided sayings and one-liners about money. It had freshness and a sense of invention that was missing elsewhere.

Among the other performers, only Steve Andreno and David Alan Nelson demonstrated some of the restraint and control they all should have had.

* "Money Makes the World Go 'Round," Way Off Broadway Playhouse, 1058 E. 1st St., Santa Ana. Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. through Feb. 12, and Monday, Feb. 14, at 7:30 p.m. $10 (Feb. 14: $20). (714) 547-8997. Running time: 2 hours, 45 minutes. With Steve Andreno, Paula Fell, Isabel Flader, Kevin Hayden, Godfrey Huguley, JoLynn Jones, Karen Kawolics, Helen Lasater, David Alan Nelson, Tony Reverditto, Raime Rollans, Jane Sharp, Laura Spurlock, Jan Tiehen, David Walloch, Memphis Bobby, Arnold Rivera and Phillip White.

A Way Off Broadway production of an evening of comedy written by the company, directed by Tony Reverditto. Set design: Brian Tucker, David Walloch. Light design: Steve Andreno. Sound design: David Walloch, Steve Andreno.

Los Angeles Times Articles