By Ellen Wilson Dilks
Ambler’s Act II Playhouse is kicking of the 2017—2018 Season with WHICH REMINDS ME, a pastiche of songs, impressions and hilarious backstage stories written by Artistic Director Tony Braithwaite, with an assist from Patrick Romano. WHICH REMINDS ME runs in the company’s butler Avenue venue now through October 1, 2017.
Those of us who perform know that one of the fun parts about live theatre is that it can get “messy.” The best stories are about when things go wrong—and the more horribly wrong, the better the story. Braithwaite brings his many years of experience to this one-man show as he shares some classic stage flubs. Utilizing his ability to mimic many theatrical legends, he brings stories to life about Carol Channing, Ethel Merman and others. Accompanied by the talented Dan Matarazzo on piano, the audience is treated to a variety of fun musical numbers as well.
Critics take a hit as Braithwaite reads some of the snarkiest bad reviews I’ve ever heard. (Fortunately, none of them were mine.) Unable to read his own bad reviews, Braithwaite calls on someone to tell us this “fake news.” Out comes his Trump impression from last fall’s Electile Dysfunction—to hilarious effect. Act II patrons also take some licks when Braithwaite and Matarazzo share audience members complaints about past productions. The things people comment on are a hoot. Adding to the fun are videos of several area actors telling stories about their own moments of onstage mix-ups or goofs. WHICH REMINDS ME is a Valentine to the tightrope that is live theatre.
The technical aspects are, as always, stellar. Adam Rigger’s set depicting a backstage area is nicely done, with some interesting stage props for the audience to check out before the show starts. John Stovicek provides a wonderfully silly soundscape to punctuate the action, while James Leitner illuminates everything perfectly. Patrick Dolan provides the well-produced videos seen during the production. Stage manager Patricia G. Sabato keeps things moving briskly along, with assistance from Michal Kortsarts. Add Constance Case’s costumes and Amanda Coffin’s props for Braithwaite to play with and it all adds up to solid support for the fun.
WHICH REMINDS ME is well worth the ride to Ambler—it’s really not that far. Braithwaite is a terrific comic and his ability to riff off of any audience feedback is brilliant. The show runs 70—85 minutes and it’s full of great laughs. IF YOU GO: The production runs now through October 1, with performances Tuesdays through Sunday afternoons. Act II Playhouse is located at 56 E. Butler Avenue in Ambler, PA 19002. For additional information—or to order tickets—patrons can visit www.act2.org or call 215-654-0200