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Philadelphia Theatre Company Presents: Second City Tour

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Second City Founded in Chicago in 1959, The Second City has become the premier training ground for the comedy world’s best and brightest. Their alumni list reads like a Who’s Who of American comedy, and includes: Alan Arkin, Joan Rivers, Robert Klein, Peter Boyle, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, George Wendt, Martin Short, John Candy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Ryan Stiles, Chris Farley, Mike Myers, Steve Carell, and Tina Fey just to name a handful. 

The Second City celebrates 50 years of cutting edge satiric revues as well as their reputation as a launching pad for generations of comedy superstars. The ensemble cast features Edgar Blackman, Rachel Miller, and Katie Rich, Abby McEnany, Tim Ryder, and Rob Belushi (son of Jim Belushi and nephew of John Belushi). 

The cast is updated and seem much rehearsed losing some of the improvisation and real moments of raw hilarity that the original artists brought to the material. Speaking of material, some of it is a bit too dated and doesn’t fly well anymore. The first Act‘s “Museum Piece” written in 1961 and “Nixon’s Fault” from 1991 are stale. “Bike Cops” a hot pants version of Eric Estrada may have been a more recent entry, but the humor just doesn’t succeed. 

What does work is the “Toll Booth” shtick with the three ladies dressed in reflective vests, staggered apart going through their wacky life routines. “MSN” also soars as three adults raid their kids computers and chat with their supposed friends turns out pretty funny. Also, the “Pictionary” game pitting girls against the guys seems to have the audience laughing out loud. 

The black outs --several 2-3 second point comedy pieces--  work as does the scene called “Noir,” which solicits an audience member as a private dick to build and solve the case. 

Much of the material needs to be freshened and the cast while clever and well-delivered, never seems to have their stand out person or their moment to shine. 

THE SECOND CITY 50TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR, runs July 13-25 at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre (Broad and Lombard Streets). For tickets call 215-985-0420 or visit PhiladelphiaTheatreCompany.org.

 

Photo Credit: Tom Mcgrath

PHOTO: The cast of Second City´s 50th Anniversary Tour / (bottom from left) Rachel Miller, Tim Ryder, Katie Rich, and Abby McEnany; (top) Edgar Blackmon (left) and Rob Belushi.