Friday, June 4, 2010

Broward Center:Laffing Matterz (2 reviews)

Laffing Matterz relocated to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in October, 2009, where they perform in the renovated Abdo New River Room banquet hall.
Laffing Matterz, a live, original, musical comedy revue spoofing current events, combines the best of dinner theater with the hilarity of topical satire in a one of a kind evening that everyone will enjoy.
Winner,  New Times' "Best Dinner Theatre 2010"
So — Laffing Matterz didn't face much competition for this commendation, but that doesn't mean it doesn't kick ass. One of a dozen extremely competent servers brings you a very-decent three-course meal, and then the whole wait staff mounts the stage for 90 minutes of raucous, topical song and dance that is politically acute and naughty enough to make the elder half of the audience blush. New Times' fave: a number in which the actresses morph into a troop of Broadway-obsessed Afghani ladies and then jazz-finger across the set in burqas, singing show-tune classics with Talibanized lyrics
John LaRiviere reviewed for Talkin'
Producers Rita and Mark Wells provide a welcome and fresh reworking of today's dinner theatre with Laffing Matterz... Their new locale in the Broward Center's Abdo New River Room provides easy and familiar access, and a crisp and elegant setting. Airy, open and inviting, this is a far cry from the outdated, dark, and heavily draped feel of the sort of South Florida dinner theatres spoofed in the movie Soap Dish.
A cross between "Saturday Night Live" and "Capitol Steps" with original songs instead of parodies, the show may be frequently updated to reflect the current topic in the news. The risqué nature of some of the comedy warrants a PG-13 rating, so it may not be suitable for children (regardless of how funny the adults find it).
From the opening song "What's Funny?" to the closing song "Get Out" the show covers a variety of comedic styles. Some are more situational, such as a number about a certain politician caught engaging in inappropriate behavior in a men's bathroom. Some is more physical, such as wiggling behinds in a hip-hop style number about the swine flu, or tap dancing in cowboy boots in a number about being gay. The songs dealing with local events garnered the strongest response, such as the true terror of driving on I95, and the alarming (and also true) outbreak of STDs among area senior citizens.
Standout performances are turned in by Angela Thomas, Louis Silver, Joey Zangardi and Kimberly Martins. Thomas is the strongest natural comedienne, unafraid to mug the audience or milk a comedic moment. Her tongue-twisting delivery of the song "The Mom" is pretty impressive. Joey Zangardi is the strongest dancer, and is able to add the most interest physically to any choreographed moments because of his technique. He is quite funny as the tap-dancing cowboy. Louis Silver is able to switch between dapper and nerdy rather neatly, and has a strong voice and mature presence. Kimberly Martins also has a strong voice and turns in a humorous performance in song about "owning" I95.
Brandon K. Thorpe reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
Things begin well at Laffing Matterz when your leggy waitress brings the special appetizer of the evening: risotto balls in a mushroom and goat cheese sauce. The mere mention of the dish is sufficiently food-pornish to make even those who don't dig dinner theater begin to feel a cautious optimism.
Your dinner date gets the sea bass with some kind of citrusy, pineapple salsa on top. It's divine — it tastes the way everything in the tropics should taste.
Then it's dessert, and you're wondering when the show's gonna start, if they're gonna make you wait until every single person finishes every single plate... You have been here for well over an hour. Laughing matters, or so you've heard, and thus far, there's been very little of it.
Then there's your waitress and the entire freaking wait staff on the stage, singing...
...then there's "The Mom Song," sung by zaftig bombshell Angela Thomas, and everything's OK. Simultaneously trenchant and giggle-worthy, it's a rapid-fire recital of all the commands and coos uttered by a mom over the course of the day. There's no telling what kind of waitress Thomas might be, but she's a helluva singer.
Miraculously, that's true of all the actors and actresses who were, moments ago, fetching your Sam Adamses and skirt steaks. I'm not sure where Mark and Rita Wells found these guys, but they will make you cough up your risotto balls with laughter.
Laffing Matterz resumes serving up great food and hilarious satire at the Broward Center on March 4, 2010, and runs through June 27, 2010.

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