Los Angeles Theater Review: GROUNDLINGS STAKEOUT (Groundlings Theatre)

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by Tony Frankel on October 17, 2015

in Theater-Los Angeles

HOT DOG SUCKING AHEAD

You know, it’s funny, I was asking a friend just the other day if he knows of any show in town which has a guy sucking on a hot dog. And it would be great if it wasn’t a drama but something cutting edge. Oh, plus some wildly original vaudevillian humor. And did I mention a live band?

GroundlingsStakeout01My friend said he did indeed know of such a show, but warned me that it also includes a scene in which I could see a woman’s, well, whisker biscuit through her pants. Hey, I said. As long as it includes food, I’m in. Well, not only did I get the hot dog and the biscuit at Groundlings Stakeout, the newest mainstage show from L.A.’s best sketch comedy/improv troupe, but there were Oreos, marshmallows, cider, and arguments over pork chops and egg nog.

The ensembles are usually much bigger, but this 5-member jackpot changed character with speedball velocity, aided by more costumes, wigs, food and accents than there were on Santa Monica Blvd. at Halloween last year. There also seemed to be more improv than normal (the mainstage shows are often sketch heavy); who knows what you’ll get, but I was treated to an abusive dad berating his kid about cereal and and interpretive dance on childbirth. I’m not giving away any of the sketches–not knowing is part of the fun–but I wave my hot dog at Tim Brennen, Tony Cavalero, Ryan Gaul, Ariane Price, and Lisa Schurga, all directed by Ted Michaels, who always knew when to cut off a scene.

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The infectious upbeat energy is fed by the intimate space (not a bad seat in the house) and a righteous band: Musical Director Willie Etra kickin’ it on keyboards, Howard Greene detonating on drums, and Larry Treadwell gripping on guitar. And here’s a huge bratwurst lick for stage managers Paul Chirico and Ricky Cruz, whose greased lightning scene changes keep the show from lagging. This outing definitely made me want to pull my own stakeout.

photos courtesy of The Groundlings

Groundlings Stakeout
Groundlings Theatre, 7307 Melrose Ave
Fri at 8; Sat at 8 & 10
ends on November 21, 2015
for tickets ($20), call 323.934.4747
or visit The Groundlings

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