Tonight I sat laughing for seventy-five minutes as I watched Tony Braithwaite and Jennifer Childs perform a series of sketches and songs on the intimate stage at Act II Playhouse. These two actors have collected some old comic routines from the classic tv variety shows and added their own hilarious nonsense to the most enjoyable night I’ve had in the theater in a long time.
While they pay homage to The Ed Sullivan Show (23 seasons on the air) and the Carol Burnett Show (11 seasons),- to Bob Newhart, Joan Rivers, and Jackie Mason- they borrow and adapt some of the best routines- it will leave you wondering what happened to tv comedy in the new millennium.
I cannot begin to separate what is vintage and what is invented and reinvented by this creative duo. It doesn’t make a difference. One minute, they are singing a song “Why the Wrong People Travel When the Right People Stay back Home,” the next minute they have Abe Lincoln’s agent on the phone, giving the President advice on his Gettysburg Address, telling him how to dress, and warning him that it would hurt his image to shave his beard.
Braithwaite creates Rodney Dangerfield. Childs portrays Phyllis Diller. Things you have forgotten about television on the Johnny Carson show, songs that you saw performed by Sonny and Cher- it’s a rapid fire barrage of comedy.
Owen Robbins provides the musical on-stage accompaniment to the many songs. He also gives us little bits of tv history in the very brief interludes. Braithwaite also provides some background to the evening’s merriment to add more to our experience.
I can go on and on about the different bits, but this is a show where you need to just sit back and let them entertain you with their amazing talent. Braithwaite and Childs are the king and queen of Philadelphia comedy, and “Together Again for the First Time” reminds us why!
“Together Again for the First Time” at Act II Playhouse, 56 E. Butler Ave., Ambler, PA 19002, 215-654-0200, www.act2.org. Thru Feb. 2, 2020.