REVIEW: The End of The World Show, Arcade Comedy Theatre

THE END OF THE WORLD COMES NOT WITH A BANG OR A WHIMPER BUT A GUFFAW

by Michael Buzzelli, ‘BURGH VIVANT Contributor

The end is near. It actually came and went, but you have another chance to catch the end of the world at “The End of The World Show” at the Arcade Comedy Theater.

Director Brian Gray’s premise is inspired. A ragtag group of humans sneak into an alien council meeting. The aforementioned aliens are about to blow up the Earth, but our heroes have 45 to sixty minutes to save the world (Okay Madonna and Justin Timberlake can probably do it in four minutes, but it wouldn’t be much of a show, would it?).

Our stalwart humans have to teach the aliens about our culture, our lives, and our humor to prove that we’re worth saving. That’s where the audience gets involved. The audience gets to be the aliens. As comic strip creator Walt Kelly would attest, “We’ve met the enemy and he is us.”

Before the show, you get a chance to get dolled up in alien attire (thanks to Cassie Brehmer, manager at Artist and Craftsman Supply in Squirrel Hill). There’s make-up, jewelry, antennae, etc. As you enter the theater, you join the alien council led by their evil overlord, Brett Goodnack. Brett’s character, sporting a curly blue wig, high bedazzled collar and other alien accoutrement enters and gets this party started. His character is part Mork, part Mathesar (Enrico Colantoni from “Galaxy Quest”) and all evil. Goodnack is a ray gun of awesome, he shoots off some of the best zingers in the show. Unfortunately, the Evil Overlord sits in a large recliner at the back of the theater. Audiences had to crane their necks to see him deliver said zingers. He’s worth the potential neck strain (here’s hoping Gray moves the recliner to the side of the stage in future performances).

When thin, gangly, improvisational actor Krish Mohan spouts off a line of dialogue, Goodnack retorts, “Is anyone else annoyed by the little one?” Goodnack later pointed at Mohan and said, “I’m going to throw you like a javelin.” The banter was brilliant, and Mohan’s reactions were worth the price of admission.

After the premise is set up, the rest of the show follows a pretty standard Improv format. Goodnack takes suggestions from the other members of the alien council (i.e. the audience) and runs the troupe through their paces.

Some games were standard faire (games you would see on “Whose Line is it, Anyway?”). Games such as “Change,” where the actors have to make a new choice each time the group leader (or alien overlord in this case) shouts out “Change.” Members of the talented cast pulled it off with aplomb. Special shout outs to Mohan and Tessa Karel for their rapid fire wit. Another special mention should go to George Aivaliotis, a last minute replacement who slid into the team deftly.

The show could be improved with a little more elucidation. Audiences unfamiliar with improvisational games could have used the standard speech, “These guys are going to show me how they would eat break up with a lover, fire an employee, or eat spaghetti in space.”

At the end of the show, audience members with smart phones are instructed to vote on the fate of the world using an App. The votes are tabulated on a graph ala the ask-the-audience question on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” with animation provided by Spencer Diaz and Nico Zevallos.  On opening night, the ruthless alien overlords decided to “thumbs down” the globe. You may have missed the earth-shattering KABOOM, but you have a few more chances to save the planet with three performances left; Aug 30, Sept 6, & Sept 13 at 10:00 p.m. at the Arcade Comedy Theater, 811 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. You may be our only hope!

THE MAIN EVENT at Off The Wall Theatre – featuring ‘Burgh Vivant contributor Mike Buzzelli

‘Burgh Vivant contributor Mike Buzzelli, emcees THE MAIN EVENT, a unique performance starring Ingrid Ullrich and Josh Himes at Off the Wall Theatre in Carnegie this weekend.

Ingrid Ullrich is your ultimate overall entertainer.

Her spicy and sassy appearance on stage whether in dancing, singing, acting, or modeling can light up an audience anywhere.  Josh “Handsome Hitman” Himes is a nationally ranked Cruiserweight Champion boxer, and is said to be the future of boxing.

They combine their talents, putting on a knockout performance! Come watch this extremely funny and highly entertaining comedy of an Italian marriage sharing their lives as a dancer and a boxer. They both get to showcase their talent and swap places with one another. This swap allows them to discover what a dynamic duo they make despite their differences, and just how powerful their love truly is.

Ingrid has traveled throughout the world for various production companies including her most recent, Royal Caribbean International. She can also be seen in various magazines, including features in FHM and Maxim.

Ingrid explains her journey throughout the industry in her newly published book, ‘Ocean Dancer,’ available for purchase on Amazon and select bookstores. The significance of ‘Ocean Dancer’ is that it tells the story of how she came up with creating her own show, ‘The Main Event,’ which is her newest and ongoing production featuring top boxer, Josh Himes, her fiancee and vocals by Jewel Ullrich, her sister.

It is an experience not to be missed!  Performances are this Friday and Saturday August 23rd and 24th, 8pm at Off the Wall Theatre, 25 West Main Street, Carnegie PA.  Minutes from downtown with plenty of free parking.

For tickets, visit:

http://www.showclix.com/event/3769585

“The Buzz” from Buzzelli: 5 Things to See This Weekend

Get out and Play

Pittsburgh is busting out with entertainment. Every weekend in the ‘Burgh you can find dance, art, theater and comedy.  Here are five fun things going on this weekend in the ‘Burgh.

Take a Peek with Pappas

Get a jump start on the Pittsburgh Public’s exciting new season with a Summer Happy Hour and Sneak Peek at the O’Reilly Theater downtown. Producing Artistic Director and all-around great guy Ted Pappas will host a party for the new line-up. There are chances to win tickets and prizes. There will be beer, wine, munchies and music all for only ten smackers!

Pump up for Theater Season at the O’Reilly from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m Thursday, August 22.

For more additional details check out www.ppt.org, you’ll be glad you did.

War and Roses

When suave lothario Don Juan marches into war, he returns a changed man. After years of abstinence he’s no longer the synonymous sexplorer he used to be. Award-winning playwright Duncan McMillan  adapts Odon von Horvath’s gripping tale of isolation in the aftermath of the Great War in “Don Juan Comes Back from the War.”

The play runs till August 30th at the Stephen Foster Memorial Theater, just below the Cathedral of Learning in Oakland, 4301 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.

For additional details contact the Pittsburgh Irish Classical Theatre (PICT) for more information at mbelan@picttheatre.org or call (412) 561-6000.

Butterflies are Free (with the price of admission)

It’s time to come out of your cocoon (or chrysalis) and check out the Butterfly Forest at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

Every day until September 2nd, a variety of butterflies will flutter by among cheerful tropical blooms in the aforementioned Butterfly Forrest. Catch the Monarchs and Zebra Longwings while you can (don’t literally catch them…bringing butterfly nets to the conservatory is highly discouraged).

All the action is at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, One Scheneley Park, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.

Come to the Cabaret, Old Chum

Come to the cabaret, old chum, for a little bit of late night fun for Burghlesque.

Madhouse Moguls Joe Nickel and Chad Robert bring you this rocking and rollicking show. Burghlesque is a  desconstructed burlesque show featuring singers, dancers and drag queens. Oh my! Pittsburgh’s First Lady of Drag, Kierra Darshell will be your hostess with the most-est (padded most-est). Hear Kelsey Purcell and Lindsay Leigh Pingor belt it out (Heard them, love them). See drag divas Sasha Nolan, Divauna Diore and Lady Diamond. Laugh with the hilarious Gab Bonesso (soon to be known as the First Lady of Pittsburgh Comedy). Be amazed by the moves of the Madhouse Dance Troupe.
Burglesque (sing it with me) is One Night Only! Saturday, August 24 at the Cabaret Theater in Theater Square downtown at 10:00 p.m.

Check them out on Facebook for additional details. https://www.facebook.com/events/196549387173299

It’s the End of the World As We know it, but I feel fine!

That’s great! It starts with an earthquake! An earthquake of laughter! When aliens take over the planet, laughter will be the only thing to save us. That’s probably why Lenny Bruce is not afraid.  Serve your own needs, and serve yourself a Hurricane at a BYOB event at the Arcade Comedy Theater in downtown Pittsburgh.

The fate of the earth, rests in the hands of a group of improvisational performers, Brett Goodnack, Tessa Karel, Dillon Diatlo, Laurel George, Tami Ross, Krish Mohan, Jamison Linz, Joceyln Hillen, Marcia Craig, and Erin Kelly. They must make our new evil overlords laugh or the human race is curtains! Personally, I think we’re safe! It’s a hilarious new group of players at the Arcade.

You’ll feel better than fine at the End of The World Show. Friday’s at 10:00 p.m; August 23 & 30, September 6  & 13 at the Arcade Comedy Theater, 811 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA. For additional details go to http://arcadecomedytheater.com/

The Marvelous Mr. Frederick and “The Burning Man”

The James Frederick interview is not only significant because it was officially the first filmed episode of ‘Burgh Vivant, but because it provided me the long overdue opportunity to catch up with an old friend.

James and I had worked together on numerous projects “back in the day” when I was an art curator.  As soon as I walked through the gallery doors, the years that had gone by became minutes, and we immediately began recalling great stories from the past, of working with Laurier Dubé of Paris, and of the three of us cooperating to stage an exhibition of the works of James Coignard, marking the artist’s first U.S. appearance in over a decade, and the last before his passing in 2008.

Coignard and Mr. Dubé were merely a sample of the cavalcade of artists that I would be introduced to through collaborations with the James Gallery.  In Mr. Frederick’s interview (and with more detail in the podcast), you will hear mention of artist Paul Chojnowski and see a brief example of one of his works.  As remarkable as it may sound, Mr. Chojnowski creates stunning landscapes and cityscapes by burning paper.  I first discovered his work during my time in the Berkshires, and later had the opportunity and privilege to include him in a Pittsburgh area exhibition in 2004.  Since then Mr. Chojnowski has been a mainstay at the James Gallery in Pittsburgh’s west end, creating “burnt” cityscapes of Pittsburgh during his many visits.  The result is breathtaking – a depiction of the Steel City born of fire; a harkening to its gritty industrial roots; captivating, compelling, and beautiful.  Treat yourself to a viewing at The James Gallery.  And let me know what you think!  You’ll find the staff welcoming, the surroundings inviting, and the art most certainly worth the trip.

– B.