Off-Broadway offerings range from sadly tragic to mildly amusing
'Real Life Funnies', Revue based on Stan Mack's comic strip, adapted by Howard Ashman, with songs by Alan Menken. Directed by Mr. Ashman. Choreography by Douglas Norwick.
New Yorkers' small talk provides the raw material for the one-liners and song-and-sketch collages of "Real Life Funnies," the new cartoon revue at the Manhattan Theater Club's UpStage. According to a program note, the show's dialogue "has been overheard, reported, and guaranteed verbatim by Stan Mack." Title and text were borrowed from Mr. Mack's Village Voice comic strip.
What emerges in Howard Ashman's 75-minute adaptation is a brisk and moderately amusing piece of urban self-satire, with songs to match by Alan Menken. Apart from a recurrent obsession with sex that would do justice to a TV blue-jeans commercial, these Village Voice Manhattanites frequent art shows, attend group-encounter sessions, and engage in assorted fun distractions.
"People Collecting Things (and things collecting people)" considers the fate of the treasured object and its treasurer. "Someday" views the floor-to-floor career ups and downs of elevator passengers. "Someone to Come Home With Me Tonight" is a flip side with a difference -- one of those moments when the authors suggest the not-so-funny side of "Real Life Funnies."
If much of the material seems familiar, it can be replied that Mr. Mack, after all, abstracts it from life. The songs and chatter are getting a really lively, skillful performance by (in alphabetical order) Pamela Blair, Gibby Brand, Merwin Goldsmith, Janie Sell, Dale Soules, and Chip Zine. Engaging players all.The arrangements and musical direction are by Larry Hoc hman.