Thursday, June 11, 2009

Unnecessary Farce: American Heartland Theatre

I have blogged before about the jewel of Kansas City Theatre, the American Heartland Theatre. Great venue, relaxed staff, full lobby bar allowing you to take drinks in with you (they will even have one waiting for you at intermission), fun shows, great casts.... it just adds up to a fun evening. You will not see high drama, the latest in Broadway, mega stars or high prices. Just wonderful theatre and dare I say it again, a fun evening!

Tonight's fare running through June 21st is the slapstick farce perfectly titled as "Unnecessary Farce". Some of the great AHT favorites, Jessalyn Kincaid, Craig Benton and my Lyric Opera Ingram Room colleague Kevin Albert are joined by some new faces in this hilarious romp.

Plot?? As with most AHT shows, plots are thin and pretty easy to follow. No complex psycho-drama here. Two of the city's most inept cops ( new comers John Wilson and Jill Szoo) are ensconced in a motel room waiting to videotape a meeting in the next room between the city mayor (Albert) and a new accountant (Jessalyn Kincaid). They are hoping to catch the mayor embezzling city funds, but run smack into a bigger crime ring, a mafia ring known as the Scottish Clan (that is clan with a C not a K, a running joke), led by the dreaded "Big Mac" and enforced by the feared killer Todd. As befitting a motel room with adjoining doors, the characters seem to catch each other in various stages of undress (this is not the Unicorn so no wangs or boobs flopping around), compromising positions, in closets, bathrooms, wrong rooms, wrong times and wrong places. Even the Mayor's sweetie little wife comes tottering in.. but we soon learn she is force to be reckoned with.

The cast was uniformly great but newcomer Zach Woods was fabulous and a show stealer as the huge, kilt clad, menacing Todd. When Todd became angry, his Scottish brogue became a tangle of sound and accent, brilliantly done and adding to the comic zaniness. Kincaid was a dynamo as always, Wilson and Szoo were a superb team, Benton is always a superb physical actor in the role of the mayor's security man Agent Frank (who only seems to want to get into accountant Brown's knickers), Kevin played the clueless (?) mayor to a hilt and Cynthia Hyer milked every nuance out of the surprisingly key role of the mayor's wife.

Just fun, a lot of laughs, a couple of scotches (drinks that is, not clansmen [not that is with a C not a K]), a fun dinner at the nearby Streetcar Named Desire.. what theatre should be.

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