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LCT's Taxidermania is manic, delightful entertainment

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Roy Don (Paul Niles) and his protégé, Granger (John C. Hogwood) run a taxidermy business in a small town in East Texas, called Taxidermania. They are seriously bummed, because the beleaguered economy has hit them just as cruelly (if not more so) than the other small businesses, and Taxidermania is in serious danger of going belly up. Meanwhile, Granger has his fiancée, Hailey’s (Tammy Langlitz) needs to consider. Their courtship is taking an awfully long time, and Hailey’s losing her maternal eggs (as all women do) on a woefully regular basis. Just how much longer will it be, till Granger steps up and ties the knot? As fortune might have it, though, Granger has a scheme, that just might deliver Taxidermania from rack and ruin. His loopy Uncle Silas (Mike Cravens) cleans the cages at the zoo, and might just have the inside track to some fresh animal cadavers, that Roy Don and Granger can then mount (“stuff ” is the layman’s term) and sell on the internet. Will Granger’s harebrained plan redeem the fate of Taxidermania?

Such is the premise (and really, just the tip of the iceberg) of local playwright Everett Newton’s gloriously absurd comedy : Taxidermania. From the antic buffoonery of toy soldier tyrant Sheriff Cauble (Matthew Mahan) to the none-too-subtle romance tactics of hard-drinking Trudy (Ree Tredo) Newton has a gift for excavating the sublimely silly and casually clever from any situation, a kind of fortuitous combination of Mel Brooks and Noel Coward. Not that Mr. Newton is anything less than 100% original. He has a fine ear for bucolic dialect and rhythms, and meticulous grasp of quirkiness that results in comedic gold. This kind of material is risky. There’s often a fine line between what tickles the author, and what plays funny in front of an audience. Happily Everett Newton’s intuitive sense of what’s needed to create that elusive alchemy, that divine spark of hilarity is absolutely spot on, and we’re all the richer (and blissfully elated) for it.

Director Neal Whitmore clearly has an instinctive feel for this spectacularly delirious piece, and the inspired and kinetic cast to bring it off. Their demeanor and technique blend seamlessly to create a well-navigated and surprising narrative, brimming with fresh and gleeful performances. It’s so rare to find such a relaxed, witty, unique voice as Newton’s and such a giddy and flawless production. Don’t miss it.

Lakeside Community Theatre presents Taxidermania, playing February 14th through March 8th, 2014. 6303 Main Street, The Colony, Texas 75056. 214-801-4869.


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