by Rebecca Langford
with Stephan deGhelder, Bobby Mitchell,
Jim Prosser, Adam Ratner
Added Material by W. Joseph Matheson & Traci Kanaan
Directed by Richard Hopkins
Music Direction by John Franceschina
Florida Studio Theatre's Goldstein Cabaret
1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota, 941-366-9000
April 1 to June 19, 2011

Reviewed by Marie J. Kilker

A fourth installment of parodic satire on local and national topics fulfills Head Writer Rebecca Langford's description of it as a "celebration of how nuts everyone is." I was able to judge its effects on both levels in consulting with tablemates from out of state. We liked better than they whatever relies more heavily on local controversies and crazies.  Examples:  the performers to the tune of "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" asking "Governor Scott, tell me why the train was poo-pooed?" (He turned down fed millions for a high speed rr.) And the Suncoast's real estate maven doing a promotion for Sarasota, to the tune of "Oklahoma," at a well known restaurant known for power lunches. That called for some explaining.  We all agreed  how much we liked the vivacious Jamie Day, expressive Ritchie McCall (especially as a short but socko imitation-Obama bemoaning being "All Alone"), articulate Steven Hope (also the Choreographer), and the group's newcomer,  chunky but energetic Gavin Esham.

"Sixty Seconds" briefs by Jamie's Nancy Bloodbath and Steven's Gerry Atric heckle such things as New College (or is it Middle-Aged College) and dangers bicyclists face. Political satire includes  "Nobody Leaks It Better" and the duet "Anything You Can Cut, I Can Cut Better" with a Red Stater and Blue Stater each claiming  "I can block any bill better than you." As for the real estate mess, Steven as a condo owner is central to the impact of "The Day Our Credit Died" (sung to the tune of "Bye, Bye, American Pie.")  It also underscores the group's fine vocalizing.

Overall, the show gains momentum in the second part, though a few skits are a bit long, like the men going in circles satirizing local roundabout installations, while Jamie sings in the middle.  A justifiable long medley fuses "76 Nut Jobs Led the Sun Parade" and "Trouble" right here in Sarasota City. All agreed  the funniest single is Gavin's "Don't Touch My Junk" during an airport pat-down with which he refuses to put up. Director Richard Hopkins keeps everything going, going, going  smoothly. Praise also to Music Director John Franceschina and for Jim Prosser's piano performance. If this version of Laughing Matters doesn't top its wonderful '09 predecessor, it may be a sign of the times, but it seems to promise continued cleverness from Rebecca  Langford. Good thing, since she's the impetus for FST's Improv.

Multicolor costumes and background  are by Marcella Beckwith; Lighting: Michael Jackson; Sound: John Valines.  Stage Manager of the 95 minute show is Theresa Hindersinn.

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