A Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Blue Hair Troupe"

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note: entire contents copyright 2003 by Larry Stark

"Blue Hair Troupe"

Created & Directed by Andy Diskes
Choreography by Mariana de Ezcurra-Diskes/Bill Allsbrook

"Globe Clotters" & "Riverdance" Choreographed by Jim Sirois
Set Design by Mockingbird
Lighting Engineer North Shore Lights And Sound
Sound Engineer Ric Schapero
> Stage Manager Ben Perkins

Flloyd...........Jack Agnew
Augie........Bill Allsbrook
Lupe..Mariana de Ezcurra-Diskes
Arthur......Michael Fosburg
Ginny..........Joan Godfrey
Irv............Dave Johnson
Bernice.......Diane Mahoney
Harriet......Mary O'Donnell
Myrtle.......Gloria Stanton

PIANISTS Chris Lawnsby or Danny Sullivan
Zach Field or Peter Stewart

Judging on last Sunday, "The Blue Hair Troupe" has found its audience. The tremont Theatre was well-filled, mostly with "people of uncertain age," a large sprinkling of them wearing red hats. The cast --- blue-haired, grey-bearded, and/or bald --- also of uncertain age, were all experienced actors pretending to be old, infirm, and fogetful. Their short skits and song-segments were familiar tunes from the past, with re-jiggered lyrics involving conditions, ailments or medicines (Metamucil, Maalox, etc.). The technique owes a lot to the parodies in MAD Magazine. A song about "All That AZZ(thma!)" is a good example.

Devised and Directed by Company Manager Andrew Diskes, the troupe turns the theatre into "The Rula Lenska Acting School" presenting their annual graduate recital at a retirement village near you. (The show, perhaps smaller, shorter, and tighter, could indeed tour such places with great success.) The women wear ghastly boufant wigs, they all wear loud polyester, and they exaggerate their infirmities as broadly as possible. (Watch a lady try for the third time to remember the lyrics to "Try to Remember"!) But their acting style everywhere is as broad as possible.

The standard routine is a "medley" of, for instance, songs from the '60s, or the '70s. Most songs barely get started before they run into parody. Many are send-ups of t-v commercials for wonder-drugs. There's a two- or three-song send-up of "West Side Story" and a clog-dancing version of "Riverdance" that retain all the power of the originals.

Despite their pretense of infirmities and their belt-it-out gags and "Catch That Joke?" winks, this is a crackerjack cast enjoying themselves. The subtext is "Watch us old bats pretend to be old bats!" --- up until a ringing finale when the entire cast flings away all pretense to sing, full-out, Grandma's anthem from "Pippin" insisting that all they want, after 67 years, is "sixty-seven more!"


"Blue Hair Troupe" (18 July - 24 August)
Tremont Theatre, 276 Tremont Street, BOSTON MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide