by C. Mehrl Bennett
Lies and Shadowbox
Easton Towne Center
* * * * *
by Rick Brown
Cabaret’s new performance Sex, Lies and Shadowbox
is a small departure from this time of year’s usual Sex
at the Box. Subject matter is more diverse and there is a
subtle depth to making fun of lying, questioning the realities
of having a baby, relationships, et al. Yet in keeping with the
old formula…and true to the manic comedy that is Shadowbox…this
show is vulgar, coarse, disrespectful, loud, laced with obscenities,
preposterous, profane, heretical, full of scantily clad women,
sacrilegious, and at times downright perverted. .
I loved every raucous minute of it.
off to a warm and fuzzy start, Jimmy Mak and Jim Andes are Edward
and Arthur – the adorable Campfire Boys. They chat honestly
about lies in the way children do, revealing the candid truth…that
we are all in fact…liars. Immediately following is the campy
“Pyramid Game Show”, a spoof on Dick Clark’s
old popular game show. The uptight Andersons (Jimmy Mak and Katy
Psenicka) and lovable white trash Ducks (David Whitehouse and
Amy Lay) romp through a forest of sexual verbiage both trying
their best to win the big cash prize. In the end however, it is
Mr. Duck’s inability to be honest that cost’s them
After a delightful duet version of Prince’s “Take
Me With You” by Carrie Lynn McDonald and Tom Cardinal, Amy
Lay returns to the stage for “Shannon’s Movie Reviews:
The Lord of the Rings”. It matters not how frequently I
see this charmingly wise skit. Ms. Lay’s Shannon reviews
flicks with the sarcasm of an adult, buried exquisitely within
the innocence of a child.
“Bert and Ernie: Longtime Companions” seems at first
to be lampooning the homophobia of many evangelicals. The smarmy
Reverend Titas (Gabriel Guyer) is Stone Phillips’ (Tom Cardinal)
sacred cow to slay. Titas’ ridiculously assumes that because
Bert and Ernie have lived together for over 30 years they must
be gay. But in a nice twist the sketch ends with the two Muppets
swearing profusely and heading off to a strip club guaranteeing
everyone is offended hilariously.
A running gag titled “O Surance” ridicules some of
the biggest insurance companies in the business. These sexually
charged sketches leave nothing to the imagination. The writing
is brilliant and deserving of winning the enormous lawsuits that
might be forthcoming. This show could have been called “Sacred
Cow Slaughterhouse”. A consideration for next year perhaps?
While there are even more quality skits I have to comment on one
I believe stands out in this crowd of excellence. “Helen
and Ethel” (Katy Psenicka and Amy Lay) play two elderly
ladies sitting on a bench at the mall people watching. This scenario
could have been quite predictable and at times is a smidgeon.
Yet the skill and range of these two fine actresses…their
timing, character depth and talent…make the piece transcend
just funny. They make this sketch at once a cuttingly observational,
poignantly significant, and a refreshingly simple delight as they
make comments about passersby. I loath having to walk through
the mall to get to Shadowbox, so this obviously touches a nerve…one
located very close to my funny bone. Ms. Lay and Ms. Psenicka
brought the house down because of the genuine quality of their
character portrayals. And when the two get disgusted and leave
two even older ladies (brilliantly played albeit shortly by Storm
Woods and Mary Randle) quickly replace them on the bench.
Musically…as always…BillWho? continues to prove itself
one of the finest bands in Columbus. Sting’s “If You
Love Somebody” is interpreted superbly by Jennifer Hahn,
while Carrie Lynn McDonald’s take on Simple Mind’s
“Alive and Kicking” actually had me thinking positively
about the 80s…for a little while at least. Pink’s
“Respect” is done with the double whammy of Sara Tomco
and Amy Lay. (Is there anything Amy Lay can’t do?
She sings…dances…acts…her spectrum of talent
amazes me.) Even Ratt’s “Lay It Down” was great.
Throwing every rock cliché in the book onstage…dancers
on not one but TWO stages…a dominant woman leading a man
on the end of a dog leash…curly haired lead guitarist Chris
Lambert center stage doing his best Peter Frampton…it was
all good. I guess if you use every cliché well it ceases
to be a cliché.
Nah…not just anybody could pull this off.
But the musical highlight of Sex, Lies, and Shadowbox
is the dapper, stylish, blues man suited Steve Guyer doing Bob
Dylan’s (really?) “Catfish”. The arrangement
is a slow blues…quite unusual for Shadowbox. Yet Guyer and
guitarist Matt Hahn expertly used the tune’s dynamics to
create a tension so thick you could slice it with a knife. Real
blues…done by white boys no less!!! At one point…getting
very quiet yet oh so funky…I noticed the crowd was so respectful
the room was silent. And anybody who has ever been to this venue
knows this NEVER…EVER happens. Yet here it is…that
interplay between the music and the crowd’s reverence for
it…at Shadowbox Cabaret…at the Easton Towne Center.
I was beside myself. And fortunately for the comedy’s sake…this
was the only thing remotely reverent all evening.
Sex, Lies and Shadowbox runs through March 31st. For more information
go to www.shadowboxcabaret.com.
by John Bennett
by Ted Kane
Donna Maria Distel
By Rick Brown
our friends Joe and Anita invited us to meet them in London, England…on
December 11th no less. They were renting a flat from what coincidentally
turned out to be the widow of my college advisor…a wonderful
world religions professor to whom I owe my degree. Dr. Wilson
talked me out of quitting Capital University my sophomore year.
And here our new friends were…renting his wife’s flat.
Ordinarily Yvonne and I do not travel with others. At least we
are very picky about who that might be. But we made plans to give
everyone as much freedom to do whatever they wanted whenever they
wanted. That…and they were going with their well-traveled
friend Spencer, so we decided to go for it. Over time the excursion
morphed into a London-Paris trip…in only 8 days. That’s
a lot of living in a little over a week. And we had never traveled
right before Christmas before…at least not to anyplace that
isn’t 80 degrees with a beach.
We arrived on a Sunday. The other three got there a day earlier
and when they discovered us meandering around the Kensington area
looking for our hotel, I knew this vacation was going to be much
different than any I’d experienced in the past. The three
knew where our hotel was and escorted us there. They had even
been there and jumped on the bed in our room! Rascals they are.
by Rick Brown
started as early as grade school I suppose. Whenever some
obnoxious kid in my class chanted “Ricky and Susie sittin’
in a tree. K I S S I N G! First comes love. Then comes marriage.
Then comes a baby in the baby carriage!!!” And unlike
most children my age…it wasn’t really the kissing
part that I objected to. Not even the marriage thing. It was
the baby. I cringed at the word and thought something
like “Shouldn’t we enjoy ourselves a little first?”
I’m sure the fact that I was the oldest of four in a
working class family struggling to make ends meet, didn’t
endear me to children. I had to help take care of my siblings
who always seemed to get whatever I had to wait for…at
the very same time I was allowed. The four summers as a camp
counselor with groups of 13 year old boys didn’t help
Then there was the time in college…I was helping take
inner city kids out trick or treating. I had gotten friendly
with a woman who was in the group that night, so we were hanging
together watching our respective one night foster kids beg
for candy. I found her attractive and interesting and sensed
she felt the same for me. Except right when I was seriously
thinking of asking her out…I had to give some adult
like instructions to my beggar child. She turned to me and
cooed, “You will make a very good father some day!”
I immediately lost interest in her.
I don’t by any means hate children. I think babies are
cute and wonderful and all that. The people acting goofy around
them bothers me more than a baby crying does. Now the “after
they are a baby part”…that gives me the
heebie jeebies. And I do feel that just about every experience
in life is better without children involved. Call me Scrooge.
I don’t care.
Joseph Lorenzo Interview
by Rick Brown
Naked Sunfish - Let¹s start at the beginning Joe. Where are
you from? What was your childhood like?
- i was born in brooklyn, but raised mostly in long island - my
childhood is better left untouched, it was fairly normal on it's
shell, but bizarre underneath - it made me who i am, rick - and
i think you've seen a bit of the many sided coin that is
- How did you get interested in acting? Did you study?
- i was always a clown type character growing up - i always loved
saturday night live and would mimic many of the characters
with friends and such - i always had a 'performer's' personality
- growing up, we always did a christmas show for the family (we
once did a KISS concert, with my cousin vinny (no joke) spitting
ketchup on my grandmother's floor - he got a smack from aunt theresa
for that. when i really crossed the line, was in tucson, az. -
my friend suede and i used to do spoken word stuff and the like
and i went to go see him perform in "dillinger days"
at Club Congress - they re-enact the capture of dillinger (who
knew he was captured in tucson) - suede was incredible, i came
to find out that he had studied in new york, etc. so i talked
him up about his performance and a couple of weeks later, on one
of our many intoxicated adventures, he talked me into going on
an audition with him. well, the parts were for a native american
and his white buddy, in their twenties, who were a bit outside
the law and were taken into a small town jail - suede was as white
as they come, from indiana, and you know what i looked like before
the haircut, well that's how i looked then - when we walked in
the door, their jaws dropped - i got the lead, suede was my support
system and that began a 5 year run with the theater group "Theater
degree zero" - i never did study, i just did it.
- I¹ve seen you do drama, sketch comedy, monologues such
as Charles Bukowski and you are a pretty mean singer as well.
What do you enjoy the most?
- music is my true passion - it is the song that always touched
my soul the most. it's what inspired me to become a poet - the
line "I want to be bob dylan" from "Mr. Jones"
by the Counting Crows hit home for me - i wanted to be dylan,
morrison, axl rose - rock n roll poet warriors have always been
my preachers. just turns out that i was better at acting and found
a way of expressing myself in that way - i have been able to touch
people most profoundly in that way. i would have to say, though,
that there is nothing better than making people laugh - in my
best moments with shadowbox and 2co's, there was no greater joy
than the belly laughs coming at me.
- How did you end up in Columbus, Ohio?
- i had gone to a regional theater audition in charlotte, north
carolina - the southeastern theater conference - it's a huge audition
for upwards of 100 theaters - shadowbox was one of five callbacks
that i received - and it just seemed like the place for me - turned
N.S. - One of your acting colleagues once told me you were a strict
“method actor”. She said you were so “method”
that when you played a scene set in winter you would stick your
head in the freezer before going onstage. Is that true?
- the freezer story is completely true! it wasn't the penguin
either - i guess if i had my choice, i would go as method as is
possible. something interesting about the shadowbox experience
- i would say that i was fairly pretentious and high minded about
'being method' before going there, but the way that place works,
it's impossible to go there - to 'prepare' or 'get into the right
space' or obsess or become self indulgent, because i would run
from stocking the fridge with beer, or making a pitcher of freak
and have to be on in seconds - it really taught me a lot about
being able to just 'turn it on' and not get too deep into needing
all that method type prep - but on the other hand, when that level
of exploration is possible or that level of depth in research
of character is possible - or the ability to get as far into a
character's world and head is available, i will take it every
time. it's one of the things i enjoy most about acting - becoming
someone else - presenting someone else - taking an audience on
a trip with someone other than me.