As a former Chicagoan who remembers Compass Players, I usually come to Second City updates with a feeling of nostalgia, especially for the intimacy between performers and audience that existed so strongly in the group's early years. Though using the large, formal mainstage at Florida State University Center for the Performing Arts, four of the group's performers and even Music Director/pianist Ben Harris, "saying it with music," connected with satire-lovers from start to finish. Yes, there were forays into the audience to perform and get onstage help to perform, but none of that prolonged cruise ship stuff. No dopey dancing or donning of crazy costumes. Yea! Still, the set pieces and improv done entirely by the mainly white-shirted, black-clad pros were foremost. The surprise: so little political comment.
Gene Wilder look-alike, curly head and all, Tim Stoltenberg proved smart at playing dumb. Tall, thin, blond Mark Piebenga fared well as various functionaries, especially during an airport pat-down. Chris Witaske played most of the silly-sexy parts. Lyndsay Hailey, an everywoman in most of the skits, made a hilarious blown-up girl doll, constantly losing air. She shone also in a Love Letters improvisation taking place in the Stone Age. Skits kidded reality TV, cigarette smoking, drinking, collegiate cutting-up, and playing "The Gay Game." Cell phones contributed to a musical and also rang out from beyond the grave.
I enjoyed the late afternoon performance enough to thank Asolo Rep for its Extra booking. But I haven't lost that feeling of nostalgia.
Duration: 1 hr., 50 mins., including a 15 min.
intermission. Stage Manager: Barry
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