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Theater review: 'Groundlings Singles Cruise' at the Groundlings Theater

March 10, 2011 |  4:00 pm

Groundlings  L.A.’s Groundlings have been a reliable source of new comic talent for some 30 years now.  Breakout stars from among the company's ranks include Julia Sweeney, Will Ferrell, Cheri Oteri, Chris Kattan and the late Phil Hartman, to name just a handful.

“Groundlings Singles Cruise,” now at the group’s Melrose facility, largely lacks the truly distinctive characters (à la Sweeney’s Pat or Kattan’s Monkey Boy) that seem likely to end up on “Saturday Night Live.” Still, the sketches never fall beneath the solidly amusing and often score huge laughs.

Unfortunately, director Mikey Day doesn’t run a very tight ship on this “Cruise.”  The actors break themselves up far too often, and gaps between scenes, while affording musical director Willie Etra and his live band a chance to rock out, seem perplexingly long, especially considering the rudimentary set and prop requirements.

In “Father of Mine,” Jillian Bell plays a nerdy ninth-grade boy whose talent show act revolves around the fact that his dad is Tommy Lee Jones, a connection he hopes to parlay into popularity.  Laurel Coppock lets out all the stops in the manically orgasmic “Piano Concerto.” Edi Patterson is delightfully weird as a twitchy, trashy nut-job who invades a shoe store looking for “that perfick fit.”  Tiny Lisa Schurga and towering Jill Matson-Sachoff are spectacularly unprepossessing motivational speakers who advise lonely heart females how to snag a man. 

The second act opening, “Singles Cruise,” features Kevin Kirkpatrick as an effeminate cruise director and Andrew Friedman as his hilariously slack-jawed partner.  A latter-day Don Rickles, Kirkpatrick trolls the audience doling out helpful (and insulting) fashion tips –- a scathing, off-the-cuff turn that is the comic highlight of the show.

-- F. Kathleen Foley

“Groundlings Singles Cruise,” Groundlings Theater, 7307 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles.  8 p.m. Fridays, 8 and 10 p.m. Saturdays.  Ends April 23.  $17.  (323) 934-4747 x 37. www.Groundlings.com.  Running time:  1 hour, 45 minutes.

Photo: Kevin Kirkpatrick, left, Andrew Friedman.  Credit: Shawn Bishop.

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