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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Romantic Sketches

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It should be pointed out that Ryan Schabach and Georgina McKee seem to be very happy with their love lives. He isn't a cave man, and she isn't a crazy woman he met on a blind date. He isn't dating outside his species, and she isn't trying to get him into bed by talking about junk food. Indeed, Schabach and McKee aren't even romantically involved. They are, however, both actors who will be all of the above and quite a bit more onstage at the Tenth Street Theatre as they star in Rich Orloff's Romantic Fools with In Tandem Theatre.

Theatergoers may remember Orloff's work from Ha!, a program that opened In Tandem's '07-'08 season. Whereas Ha! was a series of unrelated comic bits, Romantic Fools focuses squarely on men and women in romantic relationships. Though the topic of romance has been heavily scoured by previous comedies, Orloff manages more than a few novel moments.

"I love his work," In Tandem co-founder Jane Flieller says of Orloff. "I think he's got such a knack for writing classic comedy, but updating it seamlessly."

Despite going through many cliché moments between couples, from a first date to a first marriage, and using past comic influences such as Groucho Marx and Abbott & Costello, the show seems fresh and contemporary.

The quick succession of comic sketches (there are about a dozen in all) sounds like it'd be exhausting to perform as a cohesive unit, but McKee and Schabach have taken pains to keep the program from being a simple string of jokes.

"You definitely want to know what's erupting beneath all the lines that you're saying, so that you have a basis from which to start," Schabach says.

Once things get started, there's a lot of material about sex, but "it's not sex for sex's sake," McKee notes. "It's all forward momentum. It all tells a story."

In Tandem's Romantic Fools runs April 30 through May 17 at the Tenth Street Theatre.

Also this weekend: Andre' Lee Ellis' popular musical Sho' Nuff Gospel Music was such a hit at the Mason Temple Church last month that Ellis is taking the show to the Marcus Center's Vogel Hall April 30 to May 2.

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