Another Opening, Another Schmo! | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Another Opening, Another Schmo!

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ANOTHER OPENING, ANOTHER SCHMO!, Them, at Footsteps Theatre Company. Before the show, it seems every element is in place for a brilliant parody of bad theater. An assortment of overeager, overly made-up actors ushers audience members to their seats. The program announces an evening of "theatrical arts & sciences" by The Acting Conservatory of Kankakee, Illinois (TACKI), with direction, set design, costume design, lighting design, sound design, musical staging, and fight coordination by Bentley Saks, whose name appears in the program 14 times in boldface caps--since he also takes all the lead roles in this "smorgasbord of theatrical bon-bons." When the lights go out, nearly every inch of the stage is spiked with glow tape, including the legs, seats, and backs of chairs.

But once Another Opening, Another Schmo! begins, these seemingly well laid plans get scuttled by an onslaught of fussy overacting. Lampooning Coward, Shakespeare, and Puccini in "Present Slaughter," "Julius and Cleopatra," and "Il Fornicazione" respectively, the new theater troupe Them lets disaster reign, with botched sound cues, dropped lines, horrible accents, and tone-deaf singers. But the actors telegraph their jokes throughout, in effect admitting how bad TACKI is instead of making the characters seem to believe in the greatness of their work. Without comic opposition, parody isn't funny. --Justin Hayford

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