TR Robertson — What do you get when you mix an award-winning actor and an award-winning actress together, after 20 months of theatrical inactivity due to the COVID pandemic? One answer is you get a clever, funny, extremely entertaining evening of comedic sketches, all written and designed by Randall Hickman, along with the creativity of Douglas Davis and Eileen Bowman. The Vista Broadway Theatre is alive and open for performances, known as the Biggest Little Theatre on the West Coast and home to the Worst Opportunity Drawing on the West Coast.
Randall and Eileen opened the show, called “We Never Met a Piece of Scenery We Couldn’t Chew!”, in their lounging robes, each telling how much they had missed performing and how they were ready to once again perform for audiences. Eileen said things had gotten so bad that her husband even had her throw a dart at a world map, promising to take her to wherever the dart stuck once things returned to normal. Unfortunately, he hit the refrigerator, so her travel plans are limited. Eileen has been featured in numerous theatrical performances throughout San Diego County, winning a Craig Noel Award for her performance in “Guys and Dolls” at Lamb’s Players in Coronado as well as receiving two additional nominations for Craig Noel Awards.
Randall spoke about developing a passion for gardening, losing weight and watching a lot of T.V. This is what led to the creation of this evening’s performance. He said the show was patterned around the old Carol Burnett television show, saying he watched some 10 hours of reruns. As the evening moved along, you would also get the feeling that many of the sketches were perfect examples of the kinds of sketches you would see on Saturday Night Live as well, and what was shown on stage was even better than most of the SNL sketches.
We also learned a little more about this award-winning actor. His favorite musical is “Wicked” and his favorite role he has played is the mom in “Hairspray”, a role in which he won one of his San Diego Critics Choice Awards as Best Featured Actor in the Moonlight Theatre production. He also won the San Diego Critics Choice Award for his role as Ursula from the Moonlight production of “Little Mermaid”. Randall and Douglas Davis are co-owners of The Vista Broadway Theatre. Doug was responsible for set construction, lighting and sound. Randall handled the set design, lighting design and along with Eileen designed costumes for the different sketches.
“We Never Met a Piece of Scenery We Couldn’t Chew!” will run until November 21st and should be a must see on your theatre experiences in North County. The sketches are delightfully designed, and you will laugh, chuckle and be amazed at the clever situations Randall has created on stage.
The first sketch revolves around what a trip to a psychiatrist for a therapy session would be like for Charlie Brown and his sister Lucy. Douglas plays the psychiatrist with Randall as Charlie Brown and Eileen as the loud, brash sister Lucy. The trouble begins with Charlie Brown entering with his meek Christmas tree, which Lucy cannot stand, and it snowballs from there. Will the psychiatrist convince Lucy to get along and hold the football for Charlie Brown, or will Charlie Brown once again find disappointment?
Sketch two is straight out of something I could visualize on SNL. It revolves around the worst “Holiday Show Auditions” you could imagine with an unimaginable group of characters auditioning to perform. Mary and Joseph singing “Having My Baby” is hilarious.
Sketch three is “Smith Brothers Mortuary, Where the Living come to Die”, where a couple is complaining about the food being served at the reception following the funeral. The meat is too dry, the potatoes are too lumpy, the asparagus is uneatable, no dessert is being served, but the rolls are delicious. They over-zealously devour their food, while “grieving” with people that pass by. The only hope is to find better food at the next reception. I imagine people like this really exist.
Sketch four, “Clean as a Whistle”, involves Eileen and Randall trying to make a colonoscopy sketch funny and do they ever. The jokes pour out from each of them. My favorite from Eileen is for the doctor to write a note to the man’s wife to tell her that his head is not up there. They are “groaners”, but hilarious and Rodney Dangerfield quick.
In Sketch five we get to see a painting Doug did during the COVID hiatus of their three dogs and then we get to meet the dogs, well two of the three came out to “You’ve Got to Have Friends”.
Sketch six is a wonderfully performed remembrance sketch of a woman, played by Eileen, remembering the first time she met her husband at a Supremes concert, as she is reliving the moment the couple met. Randall plays the husband, Seymour, as she imagines what that moment in time was like. This sketch was called “Solid 8”.
Sketch six I would call a classic for these two talented performers as we meet Ronnie and Connie, performing at the Starlight Lounge and Bingo Parlor. Randall presents Ronnie as an over-the-top bad lounge singer performing his rendition of Broadway musical songs and Eileen is the wife Connie, performing only as a favor to Ronnie to get him to sign divorce papers. As they both present the worst version of songs from “Cabaret”, “Paint Your Wagon”, “Peter Pan”, “Hello Dolly” and more, all leading to “Try to Remember” as old Ronnie tries one last time to get Connie to reconsider.
If you want a fun, enjoyable evening, you have to call Vista Broadway and purchase the $20.00 tickets before this show closes on November 21st. The box office is open 7 days a week from 10 am until 6 pm, call 760-806-7905. Masks are required and you will be welcomed back to live entertainment in downtown Vista.
A special well done to Tommy Eyler, Stage Manager and occasional actor in the sketches and to Kate Foster and Liam Moynihan who operated the spotlights. You will want to arrive early to purchase tickets for the Opportunity Drawing that featured incredible prizes, this night like a Pumpkin door mat, utterly smooth Utter Cream, Icee Flavored Bath Balm, a box of Moon Pies, a hot chocolate ball, a popcorn bucket with pop corn and a DVD, and 2 Fallbrook Avocados and a plastic Thanksgiving platter. Now who wouldn’t want prizes like these?
Support Local Theatre – call 760-806-7905 today.
Hilarity Non-Stop at Vista Broadway Theatre’s Latest Production