The Gazette: Review: Whiteman's Whiskey Comedy Revue
MONTREAL - Sidemart Theatrical Grocery is celebrating its fifth anniversary with a wacky show called Whiteman's Whiskey Comedy Revue: One of Everything for the Boys.
This is the third production of a show that has previously been staged as part of Zoofest and at Théâtre Ste. Catherine.
Now it's playing Mainline Theatre, which has just had new red carpeting installed on its never-ending staircase, protected by an additional layer of plastic. Gentrification, at Mainline, ends there. This home base of the Montreal Fringe Festival remains the funkiest venue in town, with some of the most erratic programming known to mankind.
In short, it's the perfect spot for One of Everything for the Boys, a laid-back, jazzy comedy cabaret that's presented as entertainment for the troops in some fictional far-off land, within an unspecified time period that veers mainly between 1950 and 1970. (Just when I was pretty sure we were in the '50s, Andrew Shaver suddenly appeared as rock star Jimmy Rhinestone to sing a meandering protest song.)
The script, such as it is, was written by seven of the participants, allowing each one his or her special number in which to shine. The amazing thing is that, at times, this surreal parade of character takes, song, dance and clowning flows.
Or at least it did on Wednesday night. Apparently, what happens one night may not happen on another, as the show welcomes surprise guests.
There's a consistent army-entertainment theme and a five-piece band, which includes the Buck Wheaton Trio.
While the musical backup is superlative, the singing talent is largely underwhelming except for the sweetas-honey voice of Angela Galuppo. She's destined for a successful recording career.
In a series of sketches, Galuppo plays a chirpy Betty Crocker housewife opposite Graham Cuthbertson as the suave but insufferable Dick Powell. Patrick Costello plays their son, Nicky Darling, a hapless kid who gets persuaded to sign up for the army in peacetime, just moments before war breaks out.
Kyle Gatehouse does a wonderfully zany silent-movie turn as wannabe soldier Chester Knuckles after donning a WWI army helmet. (Which would put us back to 1918, or thereabouts.)
Trent Pardy delivers another contrasting yet equally show-stopping moment as a WWII soldier. After being served a steak by a bartender (Jason Whiting as Professor Smoats) with a patch over one eye, the soldier describes the bloodbath that won him a medal. To add another layer of poignance, Galuppo leads him around by the hand as she sings a tender song.
There's a running gag about reading letters from home that bridges several gaps in this oddly surreal, but thoroughly entertaining show.
No director is credited in the program, which is surprising given the wildly variegated, yet carefully modulated tone.
Whiteman's Whisky Comedy Revue has already spawned a spinoff, Dick Powell's In the Mood for Jazz, which played the jazz fest last year and is lined up for Centaur Theatre's Wildside Festival next month.
Advance ticket purchase and early arrival are advised. Seating is limited.
Whiteman's Whiskey Comedy Revue: One of Everything for the Boys continues at Mainline Theatre, 3997 St. Laurent Blvd., until Dec. 18. Tickets $20. Call 514-849-3378 or visit www.sidemart.ca