Theatre Review: ‘Whose Live Anyway?’ at The Center For The Arts

I have been a fan of the television show, “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” since I was in fourth grade. I love the comedy, the humor, the goofy games, and the stars. When I was little the show starred Ryan Stiles, Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie, and Greg Proops. As the years went on, new cast members would come and go. In 2016 I had the opportunity to see Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood perform at the University at Buffalo, and I got to meet them. When I saw that the other guys from the show were going to be coming to Buffalo, I knew I had to see them. I got to the theatre. The show began. Greg Proops walked out. He’s welcoming the crowd, and announces that Ryan Stiles had something come up and that he would not be here. Well, as one of the audience members said “Ryan’s not here, I’m going home.” I did not go home, but his replacement was well worth it.

. . .a tour de force of foolishness. . .

“Whose Live Anyway?” is a 90-minute improvisational extravaganza where performers Gregg Proops, Joel Murray, Jeff B. Davis and Ryan Stiles’ replacement, Dave Foley (he played Flick in “A Bug’s Life”) perform your favorite “Whose Line” games and take your suggestions to make a night that you are not likely to forget. Accompanied by Bob Derkach on piano, this show is a tour de force of foolishness, and it tickles your funny bone so much that you will find yourself unable to breath in-between the laughs.

The guys take turns playing games, such as Freeze, where they took turns creating an improvised scene and when they yell freeze, they have to tag one of the others out, and change the scene. Poor Dave Foley, who was asked to plank during this game, and had to hold it the entire time, because no one wanted to tag him out.

The four brought the house down during their performance of “Greatest Hits” where Foley and Murray were late night infomercial hosts selling a 400 song set of tunes honoring “those who used to be train engineers.” They would set the scene with a genre of music and Proops and Davis would sing the improvised songs that would be found in the collection. German Cabaret and jazz were just two of the genres chosen, and the silliness just ensued.

The audience was not safe either. A few lucky individuals where called up on stage to contribute to the night’s comedy. “Sound Effects” was played, were two audience members were each given a microphone, and they were in charge of making the sound effects for Foley and Murray as they performed. The great part is that the sound effects left a lot to be desired, but the scene kept on moving on!

Another game occurred where a couple was called up on stage and they were asked about the first time they met at their first date. The guys then recreated the couple’s first date as an improvisation game. They took many artistic liberties of course, but it was all enjoyable.

Overall, this show’s review means very little, because every night the show is completely different. If you are looking to have the greatest laugh of your life, you need to go see this show. Maybe you’ll be lucky and Ryan will be there, but Mr. Foley, did a fantastic job!

Running Time: 90 minutes.

“Whose Live Anyway?” was performed for one night only on September 10, 2018 at The Center for the Arts. For more information on the show, click here. For more information on upcoming shows at The Center for the Arts, click here.

Theatre Review: ‘Men on Boats’ by UB Theatre and Dance at The Center For The Arts

Modern takes on historical events are one of my favorite approaches to storytelling. Writing about an exploration that took place in 1869 for a 21st century audience can be tricky, I was expecting something corny like the classroom plays my American history class used to present back in middle school. I should have known better, the department of theatre and dance at University of Buffalo always exceeds my expectations.

. . .exciting and comical. . .

“Men on Boats” chronicles the expeditions of John Wesley Powell and his group of selected men investigating and documenting the Green River and the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Reading the program, the casting for this seemingly predictable show has already flipped the narrative on its head by replacing the men with an entire female cast. Each woman portrays their male figures, but it adds hilarity and quirkiness when the actors low voices suddenly raise in high pitch screaming, shouting, or brief singing.

Jaclyn Blackhaus’ script stays true to the adventure Powell and his crew embarked on, including the men who left the party, the hidden barrel of whiskey upon the wrecked No Name, to the tiny details such as the often forgotten moment of when Powell was near death, dangling from a rock ledge, saved by Andy Hall taking off his pants and using them to pull Powell to safety. Though the historical accuracy is impressive, it’s the satirical and tongue-in-cheek moments that make this story stand out and stay with you long after the show is over.

The entire cast was phenomenal, each woman embracing her character and making them unique and memorable. By the time the play is over, it’s hard to not empathize with these men, and the struggles they went through (no matter how parodied the situations were at times). Julia Krieter commands the stage as Powell, speaking the loudest among the men, strutting with an exaggerated confidence, but still caring for each member of the exploration crew, especially as their numbers dwindle. Perhaps my favorite though was Michaela Pace playing Old Shady (Powell’s brother). The quietest member of the group, Shady would often break a silence with odd humming, confuse everyone with sudden singing, or spook the group with a harmless trick, all while completely deadpan and unconcerned.

Director Eero Laine presents “Men on Boats” as an exciting and comical rehash that also provides commentary on how history is retold and interpreted. Even if you are unfamiliar with Powell’s geographic exploration, I highly recommend this show for the talent and creativity the cast and crew exudes.

Running time: 1 hour with no intermission.

“Men on Boats” runs until Sunday October 29, 2017 and is presented at The Center For The Arts at the University at Buffalo. For tickets and more information, click here.