by Rebecca Langford (Head), Stephan deGhelder,
Jospeh Matheson, Bobby Mitchell, Sam Mossler, Jim Prosser
with additions by
Chris Friday, John Forster, Mark Waltrip
Directed by Richard Hopkins
Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota
In the Goldstein Cabaret Through June 9, 2007

Reviewed by Marie J. Kilker

The skits are funnier, the satire is more pointed, the songs are even better sung than the first version a few years ago of Laughing Matters. Things that can make life so bad in this country, but especially Florida and Sarasota, turn up making really good comedy. Opening lyrics of "Comedy Tonight" are the sole ones that aren't parodied in dozens of songs that three talented guys (Stephen Hope, David Foley, Jr., Patrick Frankfort) and a smashing gal (Jamie Day) Russell-up laughs with as if from the Capitol Steps, mostly skewering politics. In crayola-bright purple, blue, red, suspendered shirts or pink dress, with matching sneakers, they never flag emoting or adding dance to mostly Broadway show tunes they sing in solos to full ensemble. Jim Prosser on piano, at the side of the small stage playfully lit by Martin Petlock, seems like a fan.

Some of the satiric topics are general. Hope nonsense-speaks a pitch for speech lessons. Frankfort delivers a singing mammogram. His application to nursery school denied, a supposedly three-year-old Foley sings "Bye, Bye, Future!" The guys bemoan ever increasing needs to recall "Food, Poisonous Food" while Day leads them in deploring-to the Disney tune of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" -- a new bacterial "super streptococcus necrotizing fascilitus" strain. Hitting audience members' nerves as well as funny bones is a portrayal of a company's convoluted automated telephone service that finally leads to customer service staffed by employees with Indian headdress and accents. The company makes American flags.

Sarasota comes under satiric scrutiny for uncontrolled growth in a skit describing how to get-following a path made by the razing of landmarks -- to its Historic Preservation Headquarters, itself ready to be destroyed. With a big brunette wig, Hope as Katherine Harris, late of congressional and president-making fame, sings Evita-like, "Don't Cry for Me, Sarasota." In a slinky jacket Jamie Day suggests Sarasota's current, suspect election supervisor proclaiming "I'll Be Screwing You" in all the old familiar (polling) places.

National politics get an appreciable share of the satire. Hilary Clinton shows up like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz determined to "Follow the Middle of the Road." With Texas accent, Day extols "Stand By Your Man" -- unless he returns to drinkin'. Two of the guys represent a couple of gays in the army, told "You'll Have to Serve Your Country in the Closet." Foley razzes Osama bin Laden as a "Sheik of Araby." In a ragtop of curls, Frankfort sings from Annie: "Osama, Tomorrow, Osama, Tomorrow" is only a bomb away! (He also scores as former former frat boy Bush.) A final medley, from West Side Story, covers immigration woes ("Tonight, Tonight" we'll sneak back in tonight), the obesity epidemic (Day's "I Feel Skinny"), and a multi-faceted description of "America."

Clowns around Sarasota-strategically displayed statues to be sold for a charitable purpose -- may be disappearing. But the live ones bemoaning "morte de bozo" currently at FST's cabaret are as well as can be.

Musical Direction: Michael Hicks. Performers: Jamie Day, Stephen Hope (also Choreographer), David Foley, Jr., Patrick Frankfort. Costumes & Set: Marcella Beckworth. Sound: Eric Stahlhammer. Stage Mgr.: Christine Scarfuto. 1-1/2 hr.s with 15 min. intermission.

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