Theatre Review: Second City at Alliance Theatre

The Second CityBy Manning Harris

They had me at hello—the first sound you hear is an expert imitation of the cultured purr of  Atlanta NPR’s Lois Reitzes, who sounds like she’s speaking with cotton balls in her cheeks, guided by a broken metronome (according to blogger Anne Elser).  “Please turn off all cell phones and pacemakers.”

The send-ups are on, and once again Chicago’s Second City is ruling the roost at Alliance Theatre’s Hertz Stage through December 12, and the ATL’s sacred cows had better duck.

There are six very talented performers: Randy Havens, Tara Ochs, Amy Roeder, Micah Sherman, Ric Walker, and Claudia Michelle Wallace.  I notice that several of these actors have ties to Atlanta, especially with Dad’s Garage Theatre; you may have seen two or three of them perform there.  All have that mysterious, vital thing called comic sense—in spades.  They are charming, funny, bawdy, bold, and endearing.  In fact, I want to see them again—they’re that good, and it’ll be a different show because the improvs vary from night to night.

There are also sketches, and they are quite hysterical.  “Miracle on 1280 Peachtree Street” was written and created by T. J. Shanoff and Seth Weitberg.  What’s in the sketches?  Let’s see—I’ll give an extended hint here—Atlanta is a car-choked city (with plenty of honking horns) in the middle of the Bible Belt (Babylon on the Chattahoochee), with a large gay population which may or may not include Mary Norwood, Rev. Eddie Long, Tyler Perry, Holly Hunter, and Dakota Fanning.  And there are a lot of empty condos, public schools with grade-fixing problems, and career-crazed politicians.  These tidbits only scratch the surface—scout’s honor.

This year the show has a terrific sound track, courtesy of the brilliant Matt Cohen, musical director, pianist, and sound mixologist extraordinaire.  In addition, the “Miracle” is somehow more lighthearted than last year, though it has plenty of bite.  We shall daintily give the show an R rating; parents, use your discretion.  (The “Bible Belt” sketch alone is worth the price of admission.)  The show is directed by Billy Bungeroth.

This raucous romp through the ATL is the fastest two hours (one intermission) you’ll spend in a theatre this season.  I would imagine that tickets are going fast; so head to the computer, phone, or box office.  Remember, the Hertz is the Alliance’s intimate theatre—no bad seats.

For more information visit www.alliancetheatre.org. Contact Manning Harris at fmanningh@gmail.com.

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