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Nostalgia wins the night with ACT's new show

March 16, 2012
By DIANE SPEER - News Lifestyles Editor , The Alpena News

Who among us doesn't like to laugh?

Mindful of that, Alpena Civic Theatre currently is the place to be. This week and next, a cast of 14 is providing an evening's worth of comedy with none other than "Laugh In," that Rowan and Martin television classic, now a stage production.

First time ACT Director Robert Sylvester turns back the clock to the late sixties era of mod fashions and vintage catch phrases like "Sock it to me" and "Here comes da judge." The humor is silly and irreverent, the characters and skits are nostalgic, and the audience eats it up.

Gary Goren and Bob Coleman play comedians Dan Rowen and Dick Martin, who created and starred in the original tv series. They do their opening shtick, plus a variety of other bits that loosely pull the show together.

Sylvester not only directed the production, but also amusingly depicts several recurring characters made famous by actor Arte Johnson. These characters include Wolfgang the German soldier, who comments on previous gags while partially obscured behind a potted houseplant and repeating the words, "verrrry interesting."

Sylvester also portrays Tyrone, a white-haired, dirty old man, who constantly puts the moves on the character of Gladys Ormphby. The two always meet up on a park bench, where Gladys often clobbers Tyrone with her purse. Newcomer Margaret Woodruff does a nice job as the spinster Gladys. She added to the overall humor by fighting to keep a straight face during Sylvester's very funny shenanigans as Tyrone.

Jackie Herbert is another standout. She does the classic Lily Tomlin characters of pint-sized Edith Ann and obnoxious telephone operator Ernestine. Just like viewers will remember from the past, Herbert's Edith Ann is perched in an oversized chair that makes her appear small and she ends her short monologues with the customary declaration, "And that's the truth."

Young actress Alexandra Hamp pinch hit at the last minute as "Laugh In's" Goldie Hawn and with pleasing results. The audience seemed to really like her as the giggling, ditzy blond first made memorable by Hawn.

Kathy Klimek, another ACT newcomer, shines as actress JoAnn Worley, known on the "Laugh In" series for singing off-the wall songs, expressing mock outrage over "chicken" jokes and an affinity for men.

Calvin Briggs appears as the Poet, holding an oversized flower and reading offbeat poems. Also amusing is Pat Skiba, who takes on numerous outrageous cameos. He seems to just show up on stage and people start laughing.

Extra added attractions come from Tom Robson, Marie Misel, Jeannie Pines, John Pines and Sherry Daoust.

ACT's production team combined their efforts on fun sixties-style fabrics and fashions, appropriate lighting, and a good set that features the pre-requisite "Laugh In" joke wall. The end result of it all is a lighthearted romp down memory lane.

Remaining performances are today through Sunday and March 22-25 with show times at 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. For reservations, call the theatre box office at 354-3624.



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