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This Isn't Just Any Clowning Around

'Funky Punks,' the feel-good show at the Falcon Theatre, is zany and hysterical anarchy.


Hmmm. It's the right theater. We're here to see "Funky Punks With Junk in Their Trunks," and that's what the sign at Burbank's Falcon Theatre says. The program handout says the same, and some pretty zany clowns were out in the lobby a few minutes ago. Inside the theater, though, after a nifty opening act with a good-looking juggling duo called the Tweaksters, some clown comes out and starts sweeping up the stage, looking surprised to see us still in our seats.

"That's the show," he says, making shooing motions.

Kids in the audience beg to differ, and the clown, trying to please, balances his mop on his chin. Does a hat trick. Pretends to walk downstairs.

"That's my show," he says politely, after each bit.

But it seems that this audience won't take the hint, so bowing to the inevitable, the clown walks over to that big pink trunk on stage, lifts the lid and calls for reinforcements. A bunch of rowdy clowns comes tumbling out, and so begins Troubadour Theater Company's feel-good, funny, sunny delight for all ages.

The ensemble--Matt Walker, Travis Clark, Luke Fuller, Andy Lopez, Guillermo Robles, Jordan Savage, Jenifer Jean Snyder, Michael Sulprizio and Mike Teele--marches to its own Tin Pan Alley, disco, rock 'n' roll and funk beat. Directed by Walker, these goofy clowns romp all over the stage and in the audience, climbing over seats, whacking badminton birdies, engaging in ring tosses and gathering up volunteers--especially dad and uncle types--for balancing feats, playing jump-rope with two stilt walkers, a hilarious "chair drill" and a rocky white-water rafting trip. A squirt gun and a pail of water figure prominently in that one.

The Tweaksters return, too, for more gracefully choreographed, balletic movement and comic juggling, and in the wild-and-woolly encore, clowns go flying in high-energy, risky tumbling runs.

The show, which premiered at Hollywood's big outdoor Ford Amphitheatre last summer, has been tightened up for the smaller, indoor Falcon space, but it hasn't lost its Marx Brothers-type anarchy, or its deceptively casual, flying-by-the-seat-of-its-pants zany charm.

Known for its musical commedia dell'arte spins on the classics, Troubadour is also reprising its show for grown-ups at the Falcon, "Romeo Hall & Juliet Oates"--Shakespeare with a Hall & Oates, 1980s flavor.

* "Funky Punks With Junk in Their Trunks," Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank, Saturdays and Sundays at 1 p.m. Runs indefinitely. $10. (818) 955-8101. Running time: 1 hour.

Playwrights Wanted: Aspiring and established playwrights are invited to participate in the Marilyn Hall Awards--New Plays Competition for Youth Theatre, a national event that encourages the creation of new theatrical works for young audiences.

The 4-year-old competition, sponsored by the Beverly Hills Theatre Guild, is open to plays on any subject, suitable for grades six to eight and nine to 12. Monetary prizes are $500 for first-place winners, $300 for second place and $200 for third place.

Playwrights, who must be citizens or legal residents of the United States, may submit up to two scripts of original or adapted material, with running time between 45 and 75 minutes. The scripts may have had one nonprofessional or educational production. Musicals are not eligible.

Submissions will be accepted until Feb. 28 (postmark accepted; entries postmarked earlier than Jan. 15 are not being accepted). Winners will be announced in June. Entry forms are required and can be obtained, along with competition rules and submission regulations, by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to BGTH--Marilyn Hall Awards, 2815 N. Beachwood Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068-1923.

Recognition for Young Artists: Teenage artists and photographers, finalists in the Music Center of Los Angeles County's 2002 "Spotlight Awards Visual Arts Competition," will have their works on display at the 18th Street Arts Complex in Santa Monica now through Jan. 31, and at Eagle Rock Community Cultural Center, Feb. 11-22.

The winners and finalists in this annual arts competition for high school students in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Orange counties, will be recognized at a public reception at the 18th Street Arts Complex on Sunday from 4 to 6 p.m. The two winners in the poster competition and in the photography competition will receive $1,500; the runners-up, $1,000; and five honorable mentions will garner $250 each.

* "Spotlight Awards Visual Arts Competition," 18th Street Arts Complex, 1639 18th St., Santa Monica (art exhibit, now through Jan. 31; public reception, Sunday, 4 to 6 p.m.); Eagle Rock Community Center, 2225 Colorado Blvd., L.A. (art exhibit, Feb. 11-22). Free. (213) 202-2245;

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