“Oh, What Fun!” features Tony Braithwaite, joined by his fellow funnymen Howie Brown, Will Dennis, and pianist Sonny Leo.
Ironically, Braithwaite’s tribute to the Christmas variety shows, which punctuated the Christmas season during the late 20th century - and continue today - is actually far funnier and exceptionally entertaining, than many of those TV shows, themselves. It is a testament to its hilarity, that additional performances are now being scheduled, to accommodate popular demand.
You are greeted by a beautiful, snowy, winter scene for a background set, with a classic, single lamppost illuminating the night sky.
Braithwaite’s rendition of the classic 19th-century poem - “'Twas the night before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore, formally titled - A Visit from St. Nicholas – is absolutely hysterical. Every two lines are recited by a prominent politician, or celebrity, both past & present. And no two recitals are identical.
The improvisation of "It's Your Wonderful Life!" – a take on the classic Frank Capra film starring Jimmy Stewart – is equally entertaining, and changes from night to night. It is remarkable how this group of comic actors is able to come up with very funny material, right on the spot; they are extraordinarily talented at their craft.
Another of our favorite aspects was “Letters to Santa”, which were all written by topical celebrities. The show would not have been complete without tap dancing from pianist Sonny Leo, Braithwaite’s tribute to Johnny Carson’s “Carnac the Magnificent”, and a medley accurately dubbed “Worst Holiday Songs Ever.”
Howie Brown is terrific as the “straight man” for Braithwaite’s comedy; his timing is impeccable as he sets up his punch lines. He also has a fine singing voice.
Will Dennis is pulling double duty as an elf at Act II. (He is also starring in Murray the Elf and the Case of the Missing Mistletoe, a two-man children’s Christmas show, with Andy Shaw, written and directed by Bill D'Agostino, which runs from December 14-23, 2012). Murray the Elf makes an appearance, and we can state with certainty, that he is the only one at the North Pole, who wears bright-red Chuck Taylor sneakers from the 1950s. His role as the protagonist in “It's Your Wonderful Life!" is an amazing improvisational feat.
Sonny Leo showcases his many talents;he sings, and turns in an outstanding tap dance routine. We will give away none of the jokes. However, we can say that there will be surprises. Our surprise on Opening Night, Friday, December 14th, was superb, especially because we weren’t expecting it.
So, if you are looking for an awesome night of Christmas comedy, “to make your spirits bright,” go see “Oh, What Fun!”
If You Go
Oh, What Fun! runs from Dec. 11-30, 2012. Tickets are $27 for all regular Wednesday-Friday performances and $33 for Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees. Discounts are available for subscribers, students, seniors 65 and older, and groups of 10 or more. Running Time: Approximately 70 minutes, with no intermission.
Recommended for ages 12 and up.
You can call the Playhouse at 215.654.0200 or visit www.act2.org.
Act II Playhouse is now in its 14th season of providing professional theatre in the Philadelphia suburbs. It is located at 56 E. Butler Avenue, Ambler, PA 19002. Ample parking is available, also. Ambler is centrally located in Montgomery County, and is not far from the top of the Blue Route (I-476) or the Pennsylvania Turnpike.