Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Theatre: Christopher Walken in an Hour...

Christopher Walken won a best supporting Oscar back in 1979 for The Deer Hunter. He wasn't nominated again until four years ago as Leonardo DiCaprio's father in Catch Me if You Can. In those 24 years between, Walken had a lustrous career that is finally getting the love it deserves in a comedy show that wears his name proudly. The distinguished theater production company Team Good Life Productions had the gumption to celebrate all that is Walken in their tribute show All About Walken: The Impersonators of Christopher Walken.

The show has everything: singing, dancing humor, tragedy, mayhem, and revenge. This mixture is the recipe for an intoxicating elixir of the human spirit, if the spirit was morally bankrupt. The seven-member troupe has a sincere admiration for a man who's been in over 80 films, hosted Saturday Night Live six times and is the only SNL host to have The Best of... DVD strictly for the members. The man is a dynamo and finally he is getting his thanks due to hard-core fans like director Patrick O'Sullivan who wrote and directs.

In the one-hour show - which I personally say is too short - the highly-skilled and driven actors perform a montage of a few of Walken's films, including The Deer Hunter, the brutal interrogatory scene in True Romance, the headless horseman in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and the infamous speech he gives to a boy in Pulp Fiction about the value of his daddy's watch.

Actors Michael Bayouth and O'Sullivan are the primary Walkens wearing the classic Christopher Walken attire: all black and the infamous stand up hair that probably boxing promoter Don King stole. They, and the rest of the excellent cast, capture Walken's body movements including the jerking of the arms, the bulging eyes and the splattered speech pattern. Lily Holleman and Amy Kelly provide that extra feminine touch and sex appeal to the testerone group. I nearly lost it when Kelly's Walken did a commercial for Summer's Eve. The girl has imagination.

Much, much love goes out to Kenzo Lee who did the ultimate Walken impression, the dancing scene from the 2001 video "Weapons of Choice" by Fatboy Slim. I was ecstatic when I saw him do the infamous Walken dance. Actor Will Shivers made a hilarious impression of Jack Nicholson auditioning to play Walken in the show, and the little I saw of Paul Mabon was enough to tell me that he has great presence and is an asset to an already tremendous cast. I am hoping he will show more of his talent in the next few shows.

As a bonus feature, the audience gets to pick their own Walken adventure by placing him in other movie roles. On this night, he was Danny Zuko from Grease and Jack Twist from Brokeback Mountain. He was also Edwin Hoover, the heroine-addicted grandfather in Little Miss Sunshine, which was combined with Jaws (you had to be there for that one...). I got a weak rap play when I shouted out Hustle & Flow but it was still amusing.

The show changes weekly but the laughs remain raucously the same. If you are a Walken fan, and you should be after reading this, the show is simply amazing. If you are not, join the rest of us cool kids and become one. It won't take long and it is the best $15 you will ever spend. Believe that.

All About Walken: The Impersonators of Christopher Walken plays at the Paul G. Gleason Theater. The show has been extended until July 9th.

-Mary E. Montoro, Contributing Writer

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