Multi-Emmy Award winner Robert Allan Ackerman’s sampling of the writings of Eugene Ionesco morphs into a time capsule vaudeville revue titled “Ionescopade,” currently receiving an entertaining mounting at the Odyssey Theatre.
Ionesco aficionados will find great fun in identifying the origins of each skit amongst Ionesco’s vast masterpieces in the theater of the absurd. For non-aficionados, if you can suspend your need for logic and a through story line, you will appreciate the collective craft of this talented ensemble as they earnestly tackle their multiple roles with the greatest conviction. All successfully conquer the very wordy, sometimes very speedy, tongue-twisting slapstick dialogue with ease. In this mish-mashed farce, each cast member has a moment to shine, showing off some strong vocals and fancy footwork (choreographed nicely by director Bill Castellino).
Tom Lowe wows in his assured tap dancing and partnerings, stopping the show with his soaring second-act vocals on “The Best Is Yet to Be.” Cristina Gerla (Lowe’s able dance partner) captivates with her gorgeous voice in “Flying.” Joey D’Auria shows off his comic chops as a chef giving cooking lessons and as a disappointed lover singing about his “Josette.” Andrew Ableson’s dramatic skills score a knockout in his “The Killer” monologue. Jennifer Malenke commands the stage with her operatic tones, exhibited splendidly in “Fire.” Kelly Lester impresses in her variety of roles, especially as a prima ballerina and as a mother duck (costumed oh-so-hysterically by Mylette Nora). As the narrator/writer and “thread” of this string of zaniness, Alan Abelew mimes and performs delightful magic tricks.
The adept band, directed by the always-reliable Gerald Sternbach, effortlessly punctuates and accents every note and dance step.
In this era of short attention spans, tighter editing of even the best skits in this two-hour revue would make the audience less apt to wish for that missing vaudeville element — the hook.
—Gil Kaan, Culture Spot LA
Performances continue through Aug. 11 at the Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., LA 90025. Show times are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. (no performances June 5, 6, 12, 20, 26; July 3, 4, 10, 18, 24; Aug. 1, 7, 8 ) and Sundays at 2 p.m. (except for June 2 at 5 p.m. and June 9 at 7 p.m.). For tickets, visit www.odysseytheatre.com or call (310) 477-2055, ext. 2.