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"Winter One-Hit-Wonderland" - Troubies on (Still Funny) Autopilot

Rick Batalla and Beth Kennedy in "Walkin' in a Winter One-Hit Wonderland"
Chelsea Sutton

Walkin' in a Winter One-Hit-Wonderland


Even the most fertile Noel well must run dry. The Troubadour Theater Company has served up 10 fantastic years of holiday irreverence – well, nine if you “It’s a Stevie Wonderful Life” playing a return engagement - and now for holiday season 2013, Matt Walker and his band of musical, improve-ing and punning professional goof-offs have given us a Greatest Hits show.

That’s good news and it isn’t.

On stage at the Falcon Theatre through Jan. 19 and providing much seasonal mirth is a “new” Troubie show with a hugely promising title: “Walkin’ in a Winter One-Hit-Wonderland.” If you have seen what this company has done overlaying the fleeting hits of bands like Devo, Right Said Fred and Gotye onto the stories of Lewis Carroll (as in “Alice in One-Hit Wonderland” 1 and 2), you have experienced the company at its apex of zaniness. And if you’ve seen just about any of the Troubie’s holiday shows over the past decade, you must certainly have caught the Winter Warlock, the Liberace-ish giant with enormous straw-like icicle fingers played by Beth Kennedy.

So with one-hit wonders providing the soundtrack, the Warlock takes center stage this time via a Dickens/Capra meld (directed by Walker) that offers a calamitous “What if?” propositional (the Warlock gets pissed over a lack of respect and quits showbiz), and then brings back a whole bunch of familiar faces (and, yes, jokes) from past Troubie holiday shows to talk him out of it.

Thus, by the transitive property of play-going (or something), if you’ve seen a “One-Hit Wonder” show…

… and you have also taken in a Troubadour holiday show …

… then you’ve basically seen “Winter One-Hit Wonderland.” The material is about that fresh. And bet your bottom farthing that Walker and company know it, given the number of self-referential jokes. The show is also cashing in on the celebratory nature of an anniversary, on audience expectations of the familiar and on there being a certain quotient of the audience each night who have never seen a Troubie show, the virgins as Walker (serving as narrator) calls them.

Still, give the Troubies their props. Their company members are skilled enough at this game that a performance with A. virtually no new material, B. a lot of vamping (or sputtering) for substantial parts of its 90 intermission-less minutes and one which C. makes ample use of film clips of past performances is still sporadically rupture-a-gut funny.

That’s because when you give an actor like founding member Rick Batalla a snifter glass the size of a fishbowl, fill it with the real stuff and turn him loose on the Looking Glass song “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl),” it’s a tinsel-strewn given that Batalla is going to knock it out of the park. The cast numbers eight this time around and many of them are Troubie long-timers as nutso as Batalla.

Eric Heinley and Kevin McCourt lead the always game Troubie band, and As is frequently the case when you’re dealing with an easily accessed audience and a company that has no shame, audience members should beware, particularly those who dress down for the theater.

Now that a certain amount of cyber-ink has been spilled in the interest of getting the Troubadour Theater Company to develop something new, here’s an homage to a repeat offender that never seems to get old, no matter how often he/she/it appears.

Yep, the title character. There is something so deliciously goofy and clueless about Beth Kennedy, her voice a lounge act parody, moving around on 10 ft. stilts, finding ever new uses for those crazy icicle fingers. In “Winter One-Hit,” the Warlock gets an “origins of” flashback that introduces us to his parents and to an adolescent Warlock in love with a ballerina.

Herr Warlock, even in a performance full of the familiar, you remain (One-Hit) one in a million.

“Walkin’ in a Winter One-Hit-Wonderland” plays 8 p.m. Wed.-Sat. 4 and 7 p.m. Sun. (no 7 p.m. shows Jan. 12 or 19th); through Jan. 19 at 4252 Riverside Dr., Burbank. $34.50-$42. (818) 995-8101,

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