Bud and Lou | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader
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BUD AND LOU, Runamuck Productions, at the Theatre Building. Vaudeville is alive and well, at least for the 75 minutes of this laugh-loaded salute to the golden early years of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Adapted by Heath Corson and director Chuck Stubbings from Stephan Cox and John Lofflin's biography, the play plunges us into go-for-broke comedy routines, inexhaustibly punning on "loafing" or turning "U-drive" into multiple misunderstandings. And thanks to some splendidly stupid props and six splendidly silly performers, there's slapstick galore.

Corson is the double-taking, rubber-faced, gently whining Lou and Matt Young the perfect straight man of a Bud as the duo overcome various obstacles on their way to Atlantic City's Steel Pier Theater for their first gig. Encountering the boogie-woogie Andrews Sisters, playing havoc on the highway, and skipping out on assorted bills helps them polish their shenanigans.

As if these surefire bits weren't entertainment enough, the Pier premiere delivers a Gong Show gallery of lost (perhaps deservedly so) vaudeville troupers, including Burkhard, the juggling German Wonder Boy; tap dancers who hoof it up to "Saint Louis Blues"; an Irving Berlin duet that nearly doesn't synchronize; Mystical Moroni and his conditional magic; and Mimi, la Mime Fantastique. Crowning the hilarity are Corson and Young, hurling themselves into a pitch-perfect but far from slavish re-creation of the duo's signature triumph, "Who's on First." Some things are too good to let die.

--Lawrence Bommer

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