Theater Review - Second City comedy show picks more peaches than pits
Spoof songs provide the highlights of Peach Drop, Stop and Roll
The Alliance Theatre's comedy revue The Second City: Peach Drop, Stop and Roll features three Atlanta actors and three out-of-towners. That's up from two locals in last year's Second City show at the Alliance's Hertz Stage, The City Too Busy to Hate, Too Hard to Commute. At this rate, the Atlanta-themed show may have an all-Atlanta cast by 2012.
Like its predecessor, written by Ed Furman and T.J. Shanoff, Peach Drop combines Atlanta-centric sketches peppered with time-tested material from the famed Chicago-based improv comedy playhouse. Two Chicagoans, Seth Weitberg and director Matt Hovde, wrote Peach Drop and, impressively, avoid the temptation to recycle any of the better gags from last year. Occasionally, Peach Drop gets gridlocked in lame jokes about Atlanta media figures and predictable stereotypes, but the laughs pick up speed in the second act.
As the title suggests, Peach Drop begins on New Year's Eve in Underground Atlanta, and generally features more holiday-themed sketches than last year. At worst, Peach Drop resorts to Capitol-steps-style namedropping based on current events and local celebrities, such as thinly conceived parodies of Jane Fonda (Amber Nash) or Dagmar Midcap (Amy Roeder). When Peach Drop tries too hard to be timely, like its reverence to the alien lady from the "V" TV series, the spectators shrug. Other times, however, the show hits the sweet spot of fresh, silly public obsessions, as with its musical number about "The Real Housewives of Atlanta."
Most of Peach Drop's highlights come from its spoof songs, including a salute to the incredible shrinking Atlanta Journal-Constitution (and believe me, we at Creative Loafing can sympathize). I nominate two of the show's songs as Atlanta anthems in perpetuity: Niki Lindgren's sleazy torch song in tribute of the Clermont Lounge and the tongue-twisting, Gilbert-and-Sullivan-style ditty about the miserable history of Atlanta's transportation.
Charming scenes include a girlfriend (Nash) outspending her boyfriend (Steve Westdahl) on Christmas presents, and a Jewish schoolkid (Randall Harr) and an African-American classmate (Anthony Irons) comparing notes about Christmas vs. Hanukkah. Otherwise, Peach Drop avoids overusing the holidays, and, shockingly, only makes passing references to the Pink Pig.
Like last year, the Hertz Stage partially remakes itself into a nightclub, complete with bar, but generally the Alliance/Second City collaborations feel like shows for the parents of the Punchline or Dad's Garage regulars. Consequently, it's kind of surprising that Peach Drop seems significantly raunchier than last year's show (granted, the profanity level varies each night based on the audience's suggestions). Perhaps that makes sense: 2009 has given Atlanta a lot to swear about, and thus more need for jokes, even iffy ones about Clark Howard and kudzu.