Those of you longing for the Golden Age of Hollywood holiday specials are getting an early gift this year in Oh, What Fun!, playing now through Dec. 30 at the Act II Playhouse in Ambler (with added shows on Jan. 19 and 20, due to popular demand.)
This vaudeville-style variety show, courtesy of Act II's Artistic Director Tony Braithwaite, is packed full of music, comedy and even a bit of soft shoe. Braithwaite is joined in this faced-paced romp by Act II veterans Howie Brown, Will Dennis and music man and tap talent Sonny Leo.
The show clocks in at just over 70 minutes with no intermission. The pace is brisk, but gives Braithewaite ample opportunity to flex his mimicry muscles with more impersonations than one might think possible in such a short time, pulling out more than a dozen or so in one reading of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. (You never realize how ribald that holiday gem could be until you hear President Bill Clinton say, "The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow/Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.")
Brown provides a solid comedic anchor to Braithwaite's slightly zanier, frenetic style (think equal parts Andy Richter and Ed McMahon) while Dennis brings a dash of the acerbic with his Murray the Melf cameo (you'll need to see the show to find out what a "melf" is.) Dennis is moonlighting here with Murray, the titular elf in Act II's children's holiday production, Murray the Elf and the Case of the Missing Mistletoe, now through Dec. 23.
Leo provides the unexpected highlight in this holiday extravaganza, when he leaves his station at the piano for a standout tap number that no one sees coming (despite his proclamation in an earlier number that he brought his tap shoes.)
The show's target audience is definitely a theater goer of a certain age who recalls fondly the Bob Hope-era of holiday variety shows, but the laughs won't fly over the head of a younger audience. It's not a show for kids though. Leave the little ones at home so you can enjoy a bit of "blue" material in peace.
Tickets, schedule and more info for Act II Playhouse's Oh, What Fun! can be found here.