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'Big Bang' humor often misses mark

Allen Pontes, left, and Kenny Wade Marshall in Sierra Repertory Theatre’s ‘The Big Bang’
Allen Pontes, left, and Kenny Wade Marshall in Sierra Repertory Theatre’s ‘The Big Bang’

COLUMBIA -- Kenny and Allen have a great idea for a show. They want to stage a mammoth four-day musical that covers every era of history from Adam and Eve to the 1960s.

They just need investors to pay the $83.5 million budget. That's where you come in. Sierra Repertory Theatre's "The Big Bang," now running at the Fallon House, is the pair's pitch to convince you to pony up some cash.

The humor from Jed Feuer and Boyd Graham's so-so comedy mainly comes from watching the two men play every character in the show and improvise costumes and sets from what's on hand in a friend's apartment.

While some of the scenes are hilarious, the joke gets tedious after awhile. How many laughs can you really ring from seeing a man wear a pillow as a hat or make a toga out of a curtain?

Moreover, there are a few too many eras of history covered. Because there is no listing of the songs in the program, you start feeling restless halfway through and wonder how long it will go on.

As directed by John P. Lamb, the show begins while audience members are taking their seats. An anxious man scurries about a fancy New York apartment, straightening things up.

He's Kenny Wade Marshall, the more neurotic and hyper of the pair. He's joined after a short while by tuxedo-wearing Allen Pontes, the more polished half of the musical's creative team.

You've got to hand it to Marshall and Pontes for giving it their all in the show and making the most of this mediocre material. They literally work up a sweat running around the stage and hamming it up.

Marshall has a fabulous voice (check out his falsetto) and is the most uninhibited comic. The funniest scene in the show is when he impersonates a Civil War Southern belle wearing a hoop skirt fashioned with umbrellas and long curls from gift ribbons. He's also great as a half-naked Eve and a sad Irish farmer wondering how he should cook his last potato.

Pontes also is unafraid to look silly for a laugh, but his best moments are when he plays up his debonair side, as in his rendition of Attila the Hun as a Frank Sinatra-type nightclub singer.

Remaining quietly in the background for the whole show is hard-working musical director Mark Seiver as the onstage pianist and only musician in the production.

Set designer Giulio Cesare Perrone's attractive white apartment is a fitting setting for the partners' investor pitch. Property designer William Trier fills it with dozens of knickknacks that become makeshift props for the musical.

Those with sensitive tastes should be warned that there are some crass jokes in the show, including a lewd gesture.

But the main problem with the show isn't offensiveness, it's that too much of the humor falls flat.

Bee arts writer Lisa Millegan can be reached at lmillegan@modbee.com or 578-2313.

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