The Southern Theatre in Minneapolis greeted everyone with a fantastic performance of Triple Espresso last Saturday night. This play, which has been around for over 25 years, has yet to keep its audience from laughing. Triple Espresso is based on the story of three performers who come together for one last bid at stardom, and their ultimate failure. These three performers: Hugh Butternut, Buzz Maxwell, and Bobby Bean tell their rags-to-rags story with such fervor, and with gut-busting results.
Triple Espresso was originally written in coffee shop by three stage performers: Bill Arnold, Michael Pearce Donley, and Bob Stromberg. The unique thing about this particular performance is that, even after 25+ years, two of the three original performers/writers were in this play. Michael Pearce Donley played Hugh Butternut, a very gifted yet unconventional pianist. Bill Arnold was the second original cast member in the performance, and played Buzz Maxwell. Buzz is a very talented magician with somewhat of a despondent personality. Lastly, Brian Kelly played Bobby Bean. Bobby is one of those all-around talented performers whose only dream was to perform in front of thousands of people.
The fact that Kelly was not an original cast member in this play didn’t matter. He was definitely the audience’s favorite. Kelly was able to prove he was the most well rounded actor/performer in this play through his lifelike impression of a gorilla, and his hand shadow puppet mastery. Hand shadow puppets are unfortunately something few get to see, and when they’re done professionally with the right subject matter, the results can be hilarious. Kelly was able to make a rabbit, doe, gorilla, dog, and a human face all with his hands. His short shadow puppet rendition of Bambi getting shot down was definitely the audience’s favorite.
Although the story of this play was about three performers getting together for one last shot at fame, reaching that very level on national television and then failing miserably; the real purpose was to feature the abilities of these three performers. Donley attracted the audience by getting everyone to join in singing Hugh’s funny renditions of children’s songs. Arnold also generated quite a few laughs by playing a magician who can’t seem to get the tricks quite right, and would end up showing everyone how his trick was actually performed on accident. This turned out to be very humorous for the audience.
Triple Espresso is unlike any other play because it uses real trained musicians, magicians, and street performers. This play was clearly one that only the likes of Donley, Arnold, and Stromberg could write. The appreciation for how difficult this performance is really comes to light after seeing it. As an audience member one begins to truly notice how talented these three gentlemen are for writing and acting in a play that requires so much. If looking for a play to see over the holidays with the family, Triple Espresso definitely takes the cake.
This page contains a single entry by Mark Harvey published on November 29, 2011 10:01 PM.
A Christmas Carol - The Guthrie Theatre was the previous entry in this blog.
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