Monday, March 21, 2011

Review: The Smoking Gun Affair

Posted By on Mon, Mar 21, 2011 at 4:32 PM

They don't call me Slideshow Schniper for nothin'.

My latest slideshow captures The WYNOT Radio Theatre Show's The Smoking Gun Affair, which I watched last Friday night.

Sammie Joe Kinnett is the smoking baby in  The Smoking Gun Affair.
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Sammie Joe Kinnett is the smoking baby in The Smoking Gun Affair.

The Star Bar Players are hosting writer, director and actor Cory Moosman and his talent-heavy crew of WYNOT Radio stars on weekends, through April 3.

And I strongly suggest you make time to attend the show; it's super-entertaining, and all the actors are simply wonderful.

Moosman, fresh off his performance in The Producers at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, headed up the cast as radioman Hal Van Patten. Marco Robinson (Clark Stapleton) and Sammy Gleason (Jackie Lamont) also performed in The Producers with Moosman, and appear in this show.

Moosman, as you'll recall if you caught Death Wore Elevator Shoes last year, writes all of these WYNOT Radio scripts. They're basically throwbacks to the days of radio dramas (before televisions ruined everything) — staged as sort of a behind-the-scenes view of producing a live radio show.

The set is perfectly stark and simple: a podium and vintage microphone for each actor, broken up by a few prop tables that are full of all kinds of noise-makers and gag items.

The cast moves between the central drama — The Smoking Gun Affair in this case — in which Hal Van Patten plays Rick Luger: Private Dick, and several faux commercial segments as well as a great sketch parodying a Lone Ranger of sorts named The Last Buckaroo.

Sammie Joe Kinnett is hilarious as that masked man, but he's at his finest and funniest as the smoking baby in the Hammer Cigarettes commercial. Really, I think I will laugh every time I look at the above photo of him all smiley and face-squished in his blue bonnet — cigarette in hand.

Jonny Eberhardt executes some fun characters as Montgomery Lynd, and Gleason performs probably the best voice work of the batch.

Robinson is, as usual, acting well above his young age and makes a great villain in the Rick Luger sketches, donning a comical ascot under his goofy fake mustache and wielding a palm-sized girly gun that's good for a laugh.

Moosman, of course, needs a troubled dame for his sketches, and Amanda Cardinal as Evelyn Wonderly plays the part well in red gloves and a big red hat and dark buggy glasses.

Marco Robinson pulls out his piece. (Yes, that statement is somewhat of a dick-joke, because the script is full of them. Be warned.)
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Marco Robinson pulls out his piece. (Yes, that statement is somewhat of a dick joke, because the script is full of them. Be warned.)

Notice I've basically just given each actor a shout-out without saying much about plot and whatnot.

That's because the plot is basically secondary. You aren't really pulled along waiting to find out what happens to Luger or the dame or the villain — you just want to hear the next funny sound effect, watch one of the actors launch into a new character, and enjoy the next dry one-liner.

This is brain candy at its finest, with a smart script and easygoing, playful acting.

Kind of how television audiences now love watching Mad Men for the twisted generational nostalgia (read: sexism, alcoholism and the era when cigarettes were good for you), this show is completely fulfilling when taken as an homage to the radio days.

Some of the stupidest gags are by that rationale the funniest, and viewed inside of a 50-seat dance space (Attitudes Center for the Performing and Visual Arts) next to an old folks' home in a neighborhood and strip mall still stuck in the ’50s, the whole experience has a surreal feel — kind of like a Christopher Guest movie.

But truly, my guest and I had a blast. Sadly, we were two of some 10 audience members on opening night. That's a sad showing for a deserving show packed with some of our finest local actors.

I hear grumbling often about Colorado Springs not supporting its arts scene, including its visual, culinary and music-based arts. On a night such as this, I certainly feel the sentiment.

This show will see a total audience during its run that's likely less than a single packed night at the FAC. But we're talking about many of the same actors that grace that stage in a show that is, for its own style, just as entertaining as FAC performances.

I'll be clear: This one's an easy one, folks. Go see this show and you won't be disappointed.

Seriously — it's got a smoking baby. What more do you need?

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