An uproariously funny evening of bad acting and the mangling of classic scenes, "Beverly Winwood Presents the Actors Showcase" is a superb send-up of scene studies performed by Hollywood hopefuls who'd be better off climbing back onto the turnip truck.
An uproariously funny evening of bad acting and the mangling of classic scenes, “Beverly Winwood Presents the Actors Showcase” is a superb send-up of scene studies performed by Hollywood hopefuls who’d be better off climbing back onto the turnip truck. Best of the lot — which theoretically means they know a bad choice when they see one — are Paul Reubens as Reid Evan Wilson reprising his work as the blind Don in the Christian Community Theater’s production of “Butterflies Are Free,” and Antoinette Spolar Levine as a slumming Liza Minnelli.
The actors enter the stage two at a time — except for the threesome of Liza, Nancy Culp’s daughter Francy (Patrick Bristow) and Pu-Ping Chow (Karen Maruyama) doing a “Sex in the City” (sic) excerpt. The duos proceed to mangle “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “The Elephant Man,” “Rent” and other works. Thesps introduce themselves and state their ambitions and why they were attracted to the work. Merry Samson (the engaging Cheryl Hines from HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm”), for example, was attracted to “Anne Frank” because she “thought it would be fun to be Jewish.” Her co-star, the Snoop Dogg-suited Juicy (Jordan Black), knows what it’s like to be confined to a small place.
Audience members — Beverly Winwood, played earnestly by Susan Yeagley, addresses the crowd as “casting agents” — are given head shots and typo-ridden resumes of the performers, many of whom are seeking representation or SAG membership. Their credits are usually limited to college, church and camp productions, though Weena Savannah Shanker (Mindy Sterling) hasn’t been onstage since she did “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” in grade school. She does a wildly timid reading of “The Elephant Man” with the wheelchair-bound stroke victim The Captain (Tim Bagley), who gets caught in the stage furniture; cruel as it seems, the actors manage to generate considerable laughs.
The hour also includes gut-busting readings of “Children of a Lesser God,” with Thad Ripple (Nat Faxon) and Honey Thayer (Christen Nelson) not quite grasping what it means to be deaf, and Gemini Frank (Carrie Aizley) needing a understudy to finish “The Glass Menagerie” with Darren Borgne (Brian Palermo).
The show is the creation of Tony Sepulveda, a former Groundling and currently a Warner Bros. casting exec with “The West Wing” and “Friends” among his credits. The tenor of the perfs is consistent in their amateurishness; consistently, the actors don’t listen to one another. Lighting and costumes are admirably underwhelming and even bad.