Footlite ‘Succeeds’

By John Lyle Belden

We all know of a person who got into a prime position by dumb luck, fell upwards, however you want to call it. But wouldn’t it be wild if there were a simple instruction manual for the ambitious but unqualified?

“How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” at Footlite Musicals will show the way!

Based on a 1952 book of the same name by Shepherd Meade – who promoted it as satire, despite the fact he actually rose from mailroom to vice-president in his company – the musical was a hit in 1961, written by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert, with songs by Frank Loesser. More familiar with folks today are the hit revivals which appropriately featured the actors behind Ferris Beuller and Harry Potter in the role of the lead corporate climber.

J. Peirpont Finch (Brett Edwards) is literally on the outside looking in, as a window washer for downtown office buildings. But he has The Book (it was originally published with a yellow cover, so while similar, is not a “Dummies” book). He apparently has the fast-talking mind of a con man, but is somewhat ethical as he seeks to advance his career without committing any crimes or crushing anyone who isn’t acting a fool.  

Finch finds himself at World Wide Wickets (even back then, you needed the WWW to succeed) where he meets all manner of characters: A company president, J.B. Biggley (Graham Brinklow), with an easily exploitable private life; human resources manager Mr.  Bratt (Dan Miller) who will say yes to anything; friendly mail room manager Mr. Twimble (Jeffry Weber) who sees a long career as an end in itself; whiny Bud Frump (Josh Vander Missen), a literal mama’s-boy attempting literal nepotism (advancing as J.B.’s nephew); very hands-on department head Mr. Gatch (Jay Stanley); and various other executives and secretaries. This being the mid-20th century, women are consigned to the latter group, which includes Rosemary (Lauren Werne), who sees Finch’s potential; Smitty (Maggie Meier), Rosemary’s good-spirited bestie; Miss Jones (Joi Blalock), J.B.’s confidante and right hand; and Hedy LaRue (Sarah Marone-Sowers), J.B.’s worst-kept-secret of a mistress.

Will Finch climb the entire corporate ladder in the span of two Broadway comedy musical acts? Well, it would be a pretty lame show if he didn’t – but it won’t be easy, especially with conniving Frump around.

Edwards manages to heap on enough charm as Finch to help us overlook, and even cheer on, his otherwise questionable dealings. In a time when marrying well was one of the few easily attainable options for women, Werne makes Rosemary come off as brilliant. Solid stage veteran Brinklow manages to always emanate boss vibes, even when dancing like a Groundhog or doing a little knitting to relax. Vander Missen and Marone-Sowers show talent beyond being comic foils, holding our interest each in their own quirky ways.

Overall, this production, directed by Paula Phelan with choreography by Linda Rees, orchestra conducted by Aaron Burkhart and stage managed by Melissa Yurechko, does a brilliant job of satirizing office life, applicable to past eras and, to a degree, today. Does the number “Coffee Break” advance the plot? It doesn’t matter, we’ve all been there and appreciate a shout-out to the sacred bean. One could envision that with a more diverse, yet still corrupt and clueless, executive staff, Finch’s grandson could “succeed” just as wildly now.

Join the “Brotherhood” of witnesses to this sharply witty white-collar adventure. Performances run through May 21 at the Hedback Theater, 1647 N. Alabama St., Indianapolis. Get tickets and info at footlite.org.

ATI: World premiere musical exposes ‘Mr. Confidential’

By John Lyle Belden

Publisher Bob Harrison just wanted to make a magazine that everyone would buy, and everybody would talk about. He got his wish, briefly outselling Reader’s Digest, but what people – especially the famous – had to say was nearly more than he could handle.

This is the true story behind “Mr. Confidential,” the new musical getting its world premiere at Actors Theatre of Indiana. Both the book-of-the-musical and the big, detailed book of the same name are by Samuel Garza Bernstein, whose lyrics are set to music by David Snyder.

Harrison (Don Farrell) has gotten some notoriety around New York for his girlie magazines. No naughty bits are revealed, but frilly undies and bathing suits are enough to get him in trouble in 1952. Still, if visual suggestions of sex and sin can’t get published, what’s to stop printing words about it – especially when everyone privately buzzes about how the squeaky-clean image of Hollywood is a dirty sham.

Harrison gets everyone involved: his sister and business partner Edith Tobias (Cynthia Collins), headstrong niece Marjorie Meade (Shelbi Berry Kamohara), naïve nephew Michael Tobias (Jacob Butler), devoted girlfriend Jeannie Douglas (Diana O’Halloran*), and even legendary broadcast journalist Walter Winchell (John Vessels), who brings in zealous Commie-hunter Howard Rushmore (Tim Fullerton) to manage the magazine and provide provocative political content.

“Confidential” magazine is a hit, and soon Marjorie, tired of being little more than wife to Fred Meade (Kieran Danaan), heads out to Los Angeles to get Hollywood dirt right from the source, with informants including exotic model/actress Francesca de la Pena (Jaddy Ciucci).

Back in New York, Rushmore bristles at there being far more stories about “deviants” than secret Reds, and makes his move. Big Bob counters with an alleged brush with death that captures the nation’s attention, so his now-former managing editor enacts a most public and sensational revenge.

The cast also includes Judy Fitzgerald as Rushmore’s wife, Jason Frierson as the Los Angeles County prosecutor, Alex Coveny as Harrison’s attorney, and Emily Bohannon and Megan Arrington in various roles such as pin-up models and trial witnesses.

Farrell’s charisma and Collins’ no-nonsense approach set the high bar that all meet in their performances. Vessels’ knack for going from serious to silly in a heartbeat, complete with you-gotta-be-kidding-me expression, make him an excellent Winchell (and the judge at trial). Berry Kamohara employs her awesome voice exquisitely, especially when singing the potential classic, “Girl Next Door.” O’Halloran manages to project the air of a trusting woman with her own mind in a role where she could come off as a subservient ditz. Fullerton nimbly carries Rushmore down a path of single-minded obsession reminiscent of Javert in “Les Mis,” and just as self-destructive.

The show is enhanced by numerous projections of genuine headlines, photos, and magazine pages, as well as moments of celebrities declaring their shock at finding such stories about them in print. This, and versatile sets, are courtesy of Willem De Vries, with Baxter Chambers on lighting and Zach Rosing on sound. Kevin Casey is stage manager, assisted by Emma Littau.

Silly journalist that I am, I could be burying a lead here – that work is under way to get “Mr. Confidential” to a New York stage.

Is it ready for Broadway? I’m no expert, merely a long-time observer, so I am not qualified to say “no” (that’s too pessimistic for this blog anyway) but I’m sensing it’s not a “yes” – yet. To borrow from home improvement culture, I’d say this musical has “good bones.” The base story is fascinating, it has good songs, and meaty roles. My guess is that, like many that have gone on to meet Tony, this show will see some revisions and evolution as it makes its way to ever-bigger markets, and perhaps the Big Apple.

So, wouldn’t you like to get in on the ground floor, see what the fuss is about, and meet the guy who alerted eager readers to the possibility that Liberace was not a man’s man in the way they thought?

One weekend remains, performances Friday through Sunday, May 12-14, at the Studio Theater in the Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Carmel. For information and tickets, go to atistage.org or thecenterpresents.org. Bernstein’s book, “Mr. Confidential,” and other merch are also available for sale.

(*The actress was misidentified in the initial posting of this review. We apologize for the error and any confusion.)

Constellation: Ambitious bird has lesson for young audiences

By Wendy Carson 

Constellation Stage and Screen in Bloomington brings to life one of Mo Willems popular children’s books in a delightful show for old and young alike, “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! The Musical!”

Pigeon (Yul Carrion) is frustrated because he never gets to do what he wants to do. Everywhere he goes, he is met with the same refrain: “Fly off, bird!” As he sulks in the park, a new sign is suddenly placed beside him announcing that this will be a new Bus Stop. When the bus pulls up and he meets the Bus Driver (Sarah Cassidy), complete with her Official Bus Driver’s Hat, he realizes that he wants to drive the bus, too. However, nobody takes him seriously and he goes away dejected.

Suddenly, there is panic as the bus breaks down, potentially making all passengers late to their destinations. In the disarray, Pigeon grabs the Official Bus Driver’s Hat, but realizes his feet are too short to reach the pedals. He feels broken due to this, as well as the fact that he never learned to fly. With encouragement from his new human friends, and a lesson from the Driver, he flaps off throughout the audience, saving the day by “doing his thing.” All turns out well and Pigeon is satisfied – until a new sign for an Airport appears, and he has a new quest.

While the show is targeted primarily to the 8 and under demographic, there is plenty here for the adults who accompany them to enjoy. Hand-puppetry includes some traditional style (no actor visible), while most of it is the more modern style of a visible puppeteer (like “Lion King” or that “Q” show for grownups).

Carrion brings all of the energy and emotion you could desire to his turn as Pigeon and his puppetry skills are on point. However, the two standouts of the cast are the younger performers involved. Sophia Linville is superb in her numerous roles including the Bus Engine and the rogue Puppy. Still, it is Miriam Spillman’s Little Old Lady character that steals the show. Both of these ladies are bound to be standouts in future acting endeavors should they choose to pursue them.

The cast includes Tucker Ransom as the Hot Dog Vendor and Busy Business Man, and Nikki Stawski as a City Worker and cool Teenager. They and Spillman also appear as Ducks.

One note, there was a promotion beforehand to purchase a Pigeon stuffie along with your tickets, but demand was higher than expected and they are all sold out. However, I have been advised that a similar deal may be offered during their Fall production of “Curious George” and they expect to have enough supplies to meet the demand.

Another note to parents: There is an ice-cream coupon for The Chocolate Moose with the program. (Just a thought.)

Performances run through May 14 at the Waldron Arts Center, 122 S. Walnut St., Bloomington. Get info and tickets at seeconstellation.org

Soothing story of ‘Spitfire Grill’ in Westfield

By John Lyle Belden

“The Spitfire Grill,” a musical presented by Main Street Productions in Westfield, takes place in the Wisconsin wilderness town of Gilead. The name of this fictional yet familiar place carries significance from Bible and literary references to the “balm of Gilead,” an actual medicine in antiquity, and since then a poetic name for a soothing cure.

For one young woman, Percy (played by Chrissy Crawley), the balm comes in the form of a beautiful autumn picture clipped from a magazine. Paroled after five years in prison, she travels to the town in that image. Upon arriving, Sheriff Joe Sutter (Scott Fleshood) tells her the foliage has gone for the winter and there is hardly anything in Gilead except for the run-down diner. Being the only job, and boarding room, for miles, she stays at the Spitfire Grill with its flinty but fair owner, Hannah (Georgeanna Teipen).

Treated with suspicion, especially by local mail-carrier and town gossip Effy (Susan Boilek Smith) and Hannah’s agitated nephew Caleb (Daniel Draves), Percy is off to a rough start. But Caleb’s wife, Shelby (Katelyn Maudlin), comes out of her shyness to befriend the newcomer. Then, while discussing Hannah’s long-unfulfilled desire to sell the Spitfire, they come up with a clever idea to give it away.

“Something’s cooking at the Spitfire Grill,” indeed.

Tom Riddle completes the cast as a mysterious visitor, out beyond the woodshed.

This musical, by James Valcq and Fred Alley, based on the 1990s film by Lee David Zlotoff, is directed for Main Street Productions by Brenna Whitaker, with a cozy set by Ian Marshall-Fisher, stage managed by Tonya Rave. The result is a sweet story of starting an unlikely comeback, whether it’s from prison walls or a nowhere town with scrub trees and an abandoned quarry.

Crawley gives us a complex character, equal parts tough and sweet – with both traits serving her well. Teipen imbues her maternal role with the right amount of sass. Fleshood embraces the Mayberry style of charming and respected lawman, apt for this setting. Draves appropriately makes Caleb increasingly harder to like but stops short of villainy. In contrast, Maudlin has Shelby continuously rise to the occasion. Smith adds a little intrigue and a bit of comic relief with her constant busybody.

The original Off-Broadway production in late 2001 was noteworthy for giving audiences some American spirit when they most needed it. We’ve been through a lot in the last few years, as well, so this could be good for what ails you. Find your balm in Gilead, taking a seat at “The Spitfire Grill” with performances through April 23 at the Basile Westfield Playhouse, 220 N. Union St. Get info and tickets at WestfieldPlayhouse.org.

Houston-inspired musical at Footlite

By Wendy Carson         

 I’ll begin by noting that neither John nor myself have seen the movie, “The Bodyguard,” which is the source for the musical of the same name, now on stage at Footlite. That said, this review will focus solely on the merits of the stage show, and not be complicated by comparisons that film fans will make. I was told that there were a few changes made for the story flow, but those are for others to examine and recount.

The overall plot is basic: Obsessed fan threatens pop star and experienced bodyguard is hired to protect her. Add to this a few ambition issues and romantic subplots, and the whole thing could easily boil down to a cheesy “Hallmark Movie” – yet somehow it all works together quite well. I found myself actually charmed by the spectacle.

No matter your personal opinion of Whitney Houston, she had a fierce voice. With the majority of the songs presented being what might be considered personal anthems, the show’s success or failure heavily lands on the actress/singer playing her role. Fortunately, Angela Nichols-Manlove fills those shoes almost effortlessly. She fully brings out the headstrong sassiness of Houston’s character Rachel while still showing her vulnerable side.

RC Thorne gives the titular character the firm determination of the profession but manages to highlight the fear that drives him in this endeavor. He brings believable life to the hard-boiled exterior with a soft heart archetype.

JB Scoble as The Stalker was appropriately creepy. I was quite impressed with the choreography of his interactions with various characters during the scenes he shared. However, I never felt as though the script tried to adequately explain his motivation and backstory. This weakness of the source material aside, Scoble and director Bradley Allan Lowe made our mystery man appropriately menacing.

Young Cairo Graves as Rachel’s precocious son, Fletcher, is the breakout star of the show. His talent at not stealing every scene he is a part of (which he could quite easily do) was as impressive as his scope of abilities. He is a true triple-threat who we could see delighting us for many years to come.

Melissa Urquhart is also sharp as Rachel’s sister, Nicki, around whom much of the plot twists. Additionally, she provides a powerful voice on a couple of numbers.

At our performance, Lowe ably stepped in for a supporting actor Shalmon Radford, who fell ill. (Hopefully, Radford will return this weekend.) The cast also includes Sam Hill, Robert Dooley, Carolyn Lynch, and Miranda Nehrig. Backing singers and dancers were Anya Andrews, Damaris Burgin, Kaylee Johnson Bradley, Kendell Crenshaw, Azia Ellis-Singleton (Nicki understudy), Suzana Marmolejo (Rachel U/S), DeSean McLucas, Jada Radford, and Ryley Trottier.

Whether you are a fan of the movie, or of Whitney, or just want to see something different and upbeat, this is a show that will bring you laughs, possibly tears, and make you sing along in joy.

For “All the Man That I Need” (and other hits), see “The Bodyguard,” by Alexander Dinelaris (based on a screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan), playing through March 19 at Footlite Musicals, 1847 N. Alabama St., Indianapolis. Get tickets and info at Footlite.org.

Footlite: New take on ‘New World’

By John Lyle Belden

“Songs For a New World,” the first show by Jason Robert Brown (“Parade,” “The Last Five Years,” “13,” “Bridges of Madison County,” “Mr. Saturday Night”) is hard to describe, existing in an undefined middle ground between musical, song-cycle, and cabaret. Critics haven’t been kind, but many adore it, including local performer Jerry Beasley, who directs the current production of “Songs” at Footlite Musicals.

“It’s a concert,” he said, desiring it to be something more. “I wanted to tell 14 little stories.”

Perhaps bringing it closer to Brown’s original concept of various narratives all linked by a common theme – a person’s profound moment of decision – Beasley enriches the musical without altering its content. The cast is expanded from four to eight main singers plus two soloists, and he adds little touches to bring more context. The classic “Stars and the Moon” becomes a lesson shared among more than one singer, and thus us watching. “Christmas Lullaby” shows how an expecting mother truly feels she is giving hope to others. The youth in “The Steam Train” returns to a later song, giving it a today’s-news edge. There is humor in “The River Won’t Flow” and heartache in “The Flagmaker, 1775” – there is something for everyone throughout.

Wonderful performances by Ryan Bridges, Cameron Callan, Erin Emtiaz, Dylan Kelly, Maggie Meier, Abigail Miller, Keziah Muthama, and Kendrell Stiff, with Kayvon Emtiaz as “King of the World” and the incomparable Kevin Bell in “Surabaya-Santa.” Kelsey McDaniel stands by as swing; the on-stage orchestra is led by Jeremy Kaylor.

Appropriately, this is Footlite’s January “cabaret” production, with the audience seated on the stage in close proximity to the actors. While the chairs are in rows rather than at tables, there are still only so many of them, so act quick for tickets to remaining performances, Thursday through Sunday, Jan. 19-22. Contact Footlite.org or call 317-926-6630.

Time tick, tick, ticking forward

By John Lyle Belden

As I post this, 2022 has recently come to a close. And you might wonder, what were our favorite shows of this last year? Well, I just did a rough count of more than 150 reviews we posted, so – yeah, hard question.

Like an actor who never forgets that line he stumbled on at opening night, I can’t help but think about the reviews we didn’t do. Aside from scheduling and illness having us miss shows outright, there were a couple of performances that we caught at the ends of their run and didn’t get around to the writeup.

And like Jon in “Tick, Tick… Boom!” I feel the march of time.

There were actually two productions of that Jonathan Larson musical in central Indiana this last year – running practically simultaneously. We managed to get a review in of the well-done Phoenix Theatre production, but circumstances had us nearly miss the Carmel Community Players edition, which had its differences and was excellent in its own way.

Wendy and I would like to go on the record as saying we also enjoyed the CCP “TTB,” directed by Kathleen Horrigan, performed at the Switch Theatre in Fishers.

As is easier to do in volunteer community theatre, there was, in addition to Dominic Piedmonte as Jon, Ervin Gainer as his roommate Michael, and Margaret Smith as his girlfriend Susan, an ensemble of B.K. Bady-Kaye, Onis Dean, Abby Morris, and Ryley Trottier to portray other roles. This also helped distinguish the production from the stripped-down Phoenix show.

Piedmonte was great as Larson’s stand-in character, and Gainer is frankly one of those actors I can’t get enough of. Smith also did well as a character that is tricky as you don’t want to find yourself disliking Susan or Jon too much as their relationship falters. Having the full cast helped in letting Trottier play “Superbia” star (and potential “other woman”) Karessa, leading to a brilliant moment with both women singing “Come to Your Senses.”

Wendy found this version of the show really gave the feel of Larson’s dilemma of the world changing around him – not all for the better – as he turned 30 years old. And as he somehow feared and we have come to know, his life would end a few short years later.

A big thanks again to Carmel Community Players (hat tip to Lori Raffel), and all the local stages who let us come in and see what they have to show us. We look forward to another big year of theatre in 2023.

‘Carol’ gets musical comedy treatment

By John Lyle Belden

Marley was dead to begin with…” truly is a downer opening, but things can only go up from there, especially when Charles Dickens gets the once-over by local theatrical genius Ben Asaykwee, who wrote and directed the musical “A Christmas Carol Comedy,” playing through this weekend at the District Theatre.

Asaykwee has another show (“ProZack” at the Phoenix) so entrusts a cast of young and old, veterans and newcomers, led by the versatile Matt Anderson as Ebenezer Scrooge (and the assistant director).

To set the irreverent tone, we have a batch of young urchins (Quincy Carman, Ellie Cooper, Zara Heck, Ethan Lee, Sam Lee, Judah Livingston, Esmond Livingston, and Calvin Meschi) providing narration and appearing as needed. Others play various roles, notably Jared Lee at Bob Cratchit, Emerson Black as Jacob Marley, Amanda Hummer as Christmas Past, Tiff Bridges as Christmas Present, Shelbi Barry as Christmas Future, and Maria Meschi as ol’ Fezziwig. In addition, we have the talents of Lisa Anderson, Jenni Carman, Reilly Crouse, Jessica Dickson, Austin Helm, Emily Jorgenson, Anna Lee, Noah Lee, Adriana Menefee, Kallen Ruston, Michelle Wafford, and Charlotte Wagner.

Drop all expectations of a faithful rendition of the holiday classic (we all know it already) and revel in the silliness as this gang has a ball bringing more joy to the season. The revelation of Tiny Tim must be seen to be believed. There are also song-and-dance numbers, as Dickens no doubt never intended – watch out for flying cast members.

Our evening’s viewing at the District (627 Massachusetts Ave., Indianapolis) was a sell-out; it will likely happen again. See indydistricttheatre.org.

The Elf may not enjoy this, but you will

By John Lyle Belden

For an Elf, labor at the Toy Workshop is like a factory job anywhere in the world, with lunch hour your one respite from the constant grind. Being in the desolate dark zone above the Arctic Circle, when one of your workers – who has issues, to say the least – requests to entertain the crew with a “celebration of truth and pure being” during the break, it’s a good idea to let him ramble his weird poetry or whatever.

But as we see reenacted at the Phoenix Theatre Cultural Center, when “ProZack the Sad Elf” gets an unused storage room to put on his show, things get weirder than usual. Apparently, this year we get “The ProZack Holiday Musical (No, it’s not!)” starring Ben Asaykwee, Ben Asaykwee, Ben Asaykwee, Ben Asaykwee, Ben Asaykwee, Ben Asaykwee, and a demented Tree.

ProZack provides profound spoken verse with titles like “Nothingness,” and “Untitled.” Tinsel plays and sings holiday songs, even after he’s killed. Videographer Snowflake is up to some visual trickery. Tinkle tries to bring “levity” but has problems with his puppet, Mr. Tree, whose anger is growing, and growing. Meanwhile Glister, the industrial death metal Elf, has caught a worrying case of sentimentality.

With so much going wrong, ProZack has to frequently go backstage, where Snowflake also set up cameras. We see the elves interact and try to find their way through this madness that includes odd holiday movie references and the secret of what’s stored away in that “empty” room.

Not to mention the literal “Star” of the show…

With the help of multimedia and other effects, Asaykwee delivers a fun and surprisingly action-packed one-person show, masterfully juggling the various personae throughout the two-act “lunch hour.” There was much laughter, some finger-snapping (how you applaud poetry), and a bit of innuendo – so this is for humans of double-digit age (or relative equivalent for elves or other mythical beings).

“ProZack The Sad Elf,” also created, written, and directed by Asaykwee, runs through Dec. 23 on the Basile Theatre stage at the Phoenix, 705 N. Illinois St. in downtown Indianapolis. Get information and tickets at phoenixtheatre.org.

Executive dysfunction in holiday parody

By John Lyle Belden

As we settled in for a long winter’s viewing of “The North Wing,” an original Christmas musical presented by Defiance Comedy at the IndyFringe theatre, Molly North, assistant to the show’s writer and director, Matt Kramer, said this is like if “The West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin had (presumably under the influence of something) decided to write about the Santa Claus Workshop at the North Pole, and add music.

Well… there is a “walk-and-talk” scene, so we’ll go with that.

Since Burl Ives is dead and Josh Gad costs too much, we have the lovely Paige Scott as our narrator, Jeff the Snowman, ironically with a warmer heart than her other role, Mrs. Claus. The former is charming, literally disarming, and proud to be “a waste of resources.” The latter seems to take pleasure in being naughty – which could be a problem in this setting.

Clay Mabbitt is Thomas the Human (not the one shipped off to New York, that’s another musical), the leading assistant to retiring Head Elf, Mr. Hinkle-Twinkle (Ben Rockey, one of a number of Elfin roles) who apparently learned to speak English by watching “It’s a Wonderful Life.” After another Christmas Eve in which holiday spirit is down, the old man steps down and, before Thomas can be promoted, Mrs. Claus announces an outside hire: Janet (Meg McLane) the human former executive of a Toy Corporation, who has lots of ideas for improving things at The North Wing.

Imminent changes with only 364 Days Until Christmas have elf executive assistant Beatrice (Shelby Myers), Phil the Elf (Austin Hookfin), and random Elves (Rockey and Robin Kildall) very worried. It doesn’t help that Judy Sparkles of North Pole News (Kelsey VanVoorst) reports that disaster is inevitable. It’s enough to drive one to drink – with libations served by Blumpkin the reindeer bartender (VanVoorst in antlers and red nose).

As befits a story inspired by real-world political intrigue, this all gets really silly, really fast. And there are songs. And dancing (choreography by Emily Bohannon). And romance. And, of course, the traditional plots to destroy/save Christmas.

To rescue the holiday, there is a quest for the next must-have toy, which brings – at 164 days to Christmas – the arrival of Binky the Toy Tester (Kildall). Will the thingamajig pass muster? Will it matter?

This cast works together smoothly, and I was particularly impressed with Myers’ performance. The more dramatically inclined Mabbitt makes a great straight man to set up fellow goofballs. Scott’s ability to switch between clown and villain is fun to watch.

As we’ve come to expect from Defiance, this show is full of gut-splitting hilarity and features a number of improv veterans, so expect anything. Also as usual, there’s a bit of ribald innuendo, but aside from the “Naughty” edition 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, there is a “Nice” more all-ages version at 3 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 9-11).

See their style of wacky comedy that sells out Fringe festival shows, now in two full acts, at IndyFringe Basile Theatre, 719 E. St. Clair St., Indianapolis. Get tickets at indyfringe.org.