Directed by William Pullinsi
At the Theatre at the Center, Munster, IN
Inspired by the Woody Allen joke: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”
Cute, smart and well performed familycomedy pleases audiences
Sean Grennan’s Making God Laugh is a touchingly heartwarming family comedy that is so well cast and so well performed that we do actually believe we are witnessing an actual family saga. The impressive middle class family home set (by Angie Weber-Miller) sets the tone for the holiday tradition that finds the ’empty nester’ parents – Jimmy (Craig Spidle) and Ruthie (Peggy Roeder) as they welcome their grown children home for various holidays. Thanksgiving 1980 finds Richard (Joe Foust), the son and former high school football star with the losing entrepreneur bent ( he bought a Pacer car and invests losers like Yugo cars, Enron but spurns winners like Google). Maddie (Erin Noel Grennan) is the actress daughter who is constantly nagged by her mother Ruthie for being an actor and not being married. Thomas (Kevin Mckillip) is the the golden son because he is a Catholic priest.
This family comedy moves from 1980 Thanksgiving to Christmas 1990 to New Year’s Eve 1999/2000 to the present day. We see the parents and the children age with the terrific wigs (designed by Kevin Barthel) and through the period correct costume designs by Brenda Winstead. Among the ongoing gags is Ruthie’s horrible “Fantasia” dip that smells lousy and tastes worse. No one has the guts to tell Ruthie that her specialty sucks. During the four scenes, we see how the family has changed physically over the decades and how tensions flare up as unresolved issues re-emerge and unspoken past issues linger. The smart writing by Sean Grennan is well executed by the team of outstanding “A” list cast members. This is one quite funny show. Each decade is framed through this middle class family.
From Peggy Roeder’s Edith Bunker-esque turn as the mother, to Craig Spidle’s copacetic father to Joe Foust’s flamboyant loser son to Erin Noel Grennan’s liberated woman persona to Kevin McKillip’s saintly priest – we empathize with the foibles of this honestly presentation of the ‘average’ middle class American family. This family could be our family, that’s why their peculiarities could be ours. What family doesn’t have to endure a terrible dish from a relative? Fantasia dip anyone? You’ll laugh plenty at this honest, well staged family comedy.
Tslk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: May 6, 2012
Fro more info checkout the Making God Laugh page at theatreinchicago.com
At Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, IN, call 219-836-3255, www.theatreatthecenter.com, tickets $38 – $42, Wednesdays & Thursdays at 2 pm, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 2:30 pm, select Thursdays evenings and Saturday matinees, running time is 2 hours, 10 minutes with intermission, through June 10, 2012