Theater review: 'Laurel and Hardy' at the Falcon Theatre
In the 1920s and '30s, the world was black-and-white, people rushed around pell-mell, traffic lights hadn’t been invented, and comedy took its time. A little soft shoe, a heel click, a pie in the face, and everybody went home happy.
This, at least, is the impression I’ve always gotten from Laurel and Hardy movies. So I found Kevin Blake and Paul C. Vogt’s performances as the bowler-hatted pair in Tom McGrath’s 1976 play “Laurel and Hardy,” now at the Falcon Theatre, more successful than even colorization in bringing their art to life.
Despite being dead, the boys find themselves in front of an audience on Francois-Pierre Couture’s warm and flexible backstage set and decide to act out their story. Laurel (Blake) in a hoopskirt plays Hardy’s doting mother; Hardy (Vogt) takes on the role of a Glaswegian vaudeville impresario with a hilariously incomprehensible accent (the playwright was Scottish, so it’s not mean-spirited!) who gave 16-year-old Laurel his first break.
The show really takes off after two studio execs pair up Laurel with “Babe” Hardy (nicknamed by his barber for his soft, plump cheeks). Blake and Vogt re-create classic routines with such skill and verve that, at the end, I recoiled from a clip of the “real” duo as if they were bad impersonators. Dimitri Toscas’ direction is meticulous and sprightly.
Terri A. Lewis’ costumes cheerfully keep faith with the originals. Robert Petrarca, who plays the piano, sings and jumps in whenever necessary to make the slapstick slappier, communicates entire novels with his eyebrows. Those who already love Laurel and Hardy will find this sweet, deft homage delightful; others will be smitten.
-- Margaret Gray
“Laurel and Hardy,” Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank. 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays. Ends Oct. 2. $34.50 to $42. (818) 955-8101 or www.FalconTheatre.com. Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes.
Photo: Stan Laurel (Kevin Blake) and Oliver Hardy (Paul C. Vogt) in 'Laurel and Hardy' at the Falcon Theatre. Credit: Chelsea Sutton