Those seeking family fun this fall need look no further than the BlackRock Center For The Arts in Germantown next Saturday, which will feature a smorgasbord of slapstick comedy, live music and tap dancing all in one show.
On Nov. 15, the New York City-based theater company Parallel Exit will be heading to town with their act “Exit Stage Left,” a show that’s heavy on the physical comedy. The five-man ensemble will also be holding a free physical comedy workshop that same morning at 10:00 a.m., where artists, comedians, students or anyone else can get new comedic ideas or add to their current routine.
Mark Lonergan, Parallel Exit’s artistic director and the director of “Exit Stage Left,” said the show is perfect for all ages.
“‘Exit Stage Left’ is a vaudeville revue for the whole family,” he said. “It harkens back to the golden age of live entertainment, with music, magic, tap dance and physical comedy. It’s a rollicking show with plenty of laughs for every age group—kids will love the pratfalls, adults will love the song and dance and seniors will love the nostalgia of entertainment for a bygone era. Audiences should expect to fall in love with the performers as they battle for the spotlight and do anything and everything to put a smile on your face.”
In addition to receiving tons of critical acclaim, Parallel Exit has already snagged a “Spirit of the Fringe” award from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and received two “Drama Desk Award” nominations for Unique Theatrical Experience. The group tours extensively across the United States, Canada, Asia and Europe and brings the performing arts to over 10,000 New York City public schools to teach students life skills and how to be creative.
Lonergan said people love physical comedy and many people are incredibly drawn to it regardless of their background or age.
“Physical comedy is a universal language, something that people from every generation and culture can appreciate,” he said. “It’s a long and storied tradition, with roots in ancient cultures that began in our country in the vaudeville houses of the late 19th century. The great silent film comedians enshrined it as a classic American form, with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton leading the way. Our great television comedians used physical comedy in all of their work, from Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett to Dick Van Dyke and John Ritter.”
Lonergan said physical comedy can push past barriers.
“Physical comedy goes right past your brain and gets you in your gut, inspiring belly laughs before you know what’s hit you,” he said. “Every entertainer knows those kinds of belly laughs, and works very hard to get them.”
Those looking to sharpen their physical comedy skills can enroll in the Nov. 15 workshop. Make a reservation beforehand by visiting BlackRockCenter.org or by calling the box office at 240-912-1058.
“Our physical comedy workshop lays down the foundation for anyone interested in learning more about this form,” he said. “We guide our participants through fun and safe exercises, encouraging them to use their faces and their bodies to communicate, and to find the essence of what’s funny without speaking a single word. We examine classic physical comedy characters and scenes, and work with our participants to create short comedic sketches. We’ll throw in a pratfall or two as well, just for good measure. It’s a ton of fun and everyone leaves with a huge smile on their face.”
There will be two separate “Exit Stage Left” shows at 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and tickets – which can be purchased on BlackRock’s website or at their box office – are $15 and $22.
Lonergan said it’s all about escaping life’s problems for a couple of hours.
“We want to help you put your troubles aside for an hour and give yourself the greatest gift of all—laughter,” he said. “We hope to see you at the theatre.”