The opening of Oh, Gastronomy, now taking place in Actors Theatre as part of the Humana Festival, was one of tasty skits and delightful songs with a hint of seriousness topped off with a lot of humor.
The sold-out performance of Oh, Gastronomy! in the Bingham Theatre (an impressive feat considering the show started at 11 p.m.) showcased Actors Theatre's Acting Apprentice group at its peak in creativity. For most of the show's 28 segments, it seemed the group was excited to be there, excited to perform and, most importantly, excited to talk about, or even taste, food. And the audience was right there with them, sharing in the excitement.
The opening number, Matt Schatz's I Am Good at Eating a Lot, featured strong vocal deliveries, against a laid back, almost folksy groove, as competitors prepared for the Derby Pie Derby. The choreography and staging of this was well performed, getting the audience in the mood for the rest of the show.
The show features a number of standout performances, including Amir Wachterman's as the waiter in several of Michael Golamco's Ordering skits. His high pitched, sure of himself delivery of the stuff-not-normally-heard-in-a-restaurant lines was very humorous to see. The audience was loving it, too, laughing even before Wachterman said a line in a later skit.
Meanwhile, Daniel Kopystanski and Katie Medford's student and teacher roles, respectively, in Golamco's My Mom Won't Let Me Eat That, were very hilarious and believable, even as the reasons for not eating particular foods became increasingly unbelievable.
Perhaps the, well, biggest laughs of the night from an already hyped-up, energetic crowd came in Tanya Saracho's Banana Girl from the title character, played by Lisa Dring. What she does with said food probably made the audience think twice about eating bananas again, but it was highly entertaining and absolutely appetizing to watch. (Think Richard Simmons special guest performance on Whose Line is it Anyway? only with a female and with bananas.)
Oh, Gastronomy had plenty of humor but had a few serious moments sprinkled in. Zoe Sophia Garcia's performance in Saracho's In The Line of a girl, now with a rich fiancee's family, who struggled to find food to eat while growing up was delivered with pure passion and energy, quieting the usually loud crowd and forcing them to hang on her every word.
With the many highlights, there were a few bumps in the road. While Saracho's Code Fries was humorous (and Fritos, like bananas, will not be seen the same way again), it was hard to hear the duo (Trent Stork and Sabrina Conti) without really concentrating, even sitting in the fourth row.
Carson Kreitzer's Tomatoes, meanwhile, was perhaps the weakest of the performances. The three farmers (Nick Vannoy, Maggie Raymond, and Kanome Jones) talking of their love of tomatoes was just boring, with few laughs line-wise and very generic staging.
Still, Oh, Gastronomy! was a main course of satisfying humor with a side of seriousness and a literal tasty treat at the end. Check it out as part of the Humana Festival through April 1.
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(Image from Humana Festival)