by Clark Groome
For most theatergoers, what happens before, after and sometimes during the show you’re watching is a mystery. Actors have problems, get reviews that sting and often deal with dead or sometimes too lively audiences. Audiences occasionally behave as if they were watching TV on their couches at home and talk back to the show or to a specific actor, becoming a disrupting if often hilarious part of the show, sometimes at the most inappropriate time.
Actor, director and comic Tony Braithwaite demystifies some of those experiences now through Oct. 1 in “Which Reminds Me” at Ambler’s Act II Playhouse.
He tells stories about some on-stage mishaps, recounts unwanted audience participation/reaction, reacts to bad reviews from critics and reads rather pointed letters from audience members who were less than pleased with what they saw.
Braithwaite, a theatrical treasure when he’s on top of his game (which he is here), doesn’t limit his stories to his own experiences. Rather, he includes similar stories on video from other local actors and includes Kermit the Frog, Ethel Merman, Donald J. Trump (calling the negative reviews “Fake News,” the only specific you’ll get from me so as to not spoil the fun) and, especially, Carol Channing. These and a few others prove that Braithwaite is not only a talented performer but also a fine mimic.
The stories he relates and the reviews he recounts are not just amusing. They offer access to what a life in the theater really can be at its best and its most problematic.
Throughout the 70-minute show, Braithwaite is backed up by pianist Dan Matarazzo and assisted by an unidentified-in-the-program stagehand, both of whom are terrific.
Any show that starts with a story about falling in love with theater as a kid watching the Muppets on TV and then makes references to long-ago forgotten shows like “Her First Roman” and “Subways Are for Sleeping” is lots of fun for theater folk. But it’s also a hoot for anyone who sees it.
Braithwaite’s show is a wonderful antidote for the non-fake news we get elsewhere these days.
For tickets, call 215-654-0200 or visit www.act2.org