Stars in the Gutter | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Stars in the Gutter 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

STARS IN THE GUTTER, Hit 'n' Run Productions, at Stage Left Theatre. Subtitled "a celebrity freak show," Charles Bila's late-night comedy is based on the hateful but reliable premise that there's nothing funnier than watching someone else in pain. And if that someone also used to be a somebody, so much the better. Packing his play with famous and once-famous TV and movie stars (Margot Kidder, Richard Pryor), Bila finds some now so obscure--Mindy Cohn, for example, and Nancy McKeon--that he feels compelled to tell us who they played on TV: Cohn and McKeon both appeared on the loathsome sitcom The Facts of Life.

Sadly, Bila forgot to make his play funny, though it's amusing for a few minutes at least: Dana Plato and Todd Bridges, two hapless stars of Diff'rent Strokes, go on a killing spree and bump off the stars of The Facts of Life in the misguided belief that this will improve the chances for a Diff'rent Strokes reunion show.

But Bila depends way too much on his cast's ability to impersonate celebs. Sometimes they come through for him: Michelle Zee and Vergil Kelley make a great comic team as Plato and Bridges. But most of the time they don't: Scott MacDonell, who isn't bad as Pee-wee Herman, does one of the worst imitations of Divine I've ever seen. And why should they come through? Bila never bothered to give them a real comedy to begin with. --Jack Helbig

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Give $35/month →  
  Give $10/month →  
  Give  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Jack Helbig

Popular Stories