“TAMMY’S BACHELORETTE”: Jersey Girls, Off Broadway…

Hey, did you read the news in The Daily Record?  Tammy Tucker (Nannette Deasy), the prettiest and most popular girl in her high school class (Presumably the Class of 2006…), is getting married. OMG! Her sister/maid-of-honor Becky (Natalie Hunter) is hosting a bachelorette party, and the guest list includes Tammy’s BFF Sara (Vikki Martin), her soon-to-be mother-in-law/”cool mom” Gladys (Sam Katz), and the sister of her fiancé, Ronnie (Elke Reid), who, as we learn later on, has some amateur psychic abilities.  The festivities will be happening in Las Vegas Bennigan’s in downtown Morristown, New Jersey…. and there promises to be gossip, drinks, party games, prizes, and a neophyte stripper named (Get ready…) “Tony Penis” (Jack Spalding)!

Tammy’s Bachelorette, directed by Pat Shay with Technical Direction by Will Knapp, is the latest audience-participation comedy show from Improvisational Repertory Theatre Ensemble (IRTE), and the popular Producer’s Club of Manhattan was transformed into the aforementioned Bennigan’s.  As the audience was greeted by the “welcoming committee” of Tammy’s inebriated girlfriends and future in-laws, the black-box style theater was decorated drowning in the finest adornments that Party City had to offer.  Yes, kids, this is going to be a classy soiree, right on down to the drinking games such as “Never have I ever…!”, the roasting of the bride-to-be disguised as “trivia” (Tammy’s favorite drink is “Sex on the Jersey Shore Beach”.), and one character declaring that she found her babysitter on Craigslist.  A few other characters also make presence known, including Tammy’s former classmate Jannine (Evie Aronson), who’s now a waitress at Bennigan’s; a scheming former boyfriend cunningly named Mathias Le Foe (Todd Exler) who is trying to win Tammy back; and even Tammy’s fiancé Rudy Clucker (Robert Baumgardner), who just happen to be the General Manager at Bennigan’s.  What a coincidence!  But where is Tammy, the guest of honor and, as we learn, the girl still known as the “school slut” six years after graduation?  Tammy does soon make her over-the-top presence known, in an explosion of pink. If Shelby’s colors in Steel Magnolias were “blush” and “bashful”, Tammy’s shade of pink is “cotton candy”. 

The first questions the audience may have so far are: (1) “Is there really a Bennigan’s in Morristown, New Jersey?” and (2) “Do we actually get to see any penis?”  The answers are (1) “Absolutely”, and (2) “Well… sort of…”  Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that Tony Penis had more wardrobe malfunctions than watching “Super Bowl 2004” on YouTube in “Loop Video” mode. Classify this as “The First Fully Clothed Striptease in the History of NYC Theater”. That said, the entire audience does indeed… uhm, “get a piece” later on! The play created itself as a live version of an ’80’s/early ’90’s comedy where twentysomethings are still bound by their high school personas.  Thankfully, these ladies are too harmless to ever be “mean girls”, even when they rip on the long-suffering Jeannine for being single and for “still” being a waitress at Bennigan’s.  In between the drama masquerading as gossip and the gossip masquerading as drama, we have musical segments courtesy of the talented John Munnelly, who seems distinctly, albeit endearingly, out of place in this girls’ night out.  Even when he singing a song called Does My Bum Look Big In This? (The Bum Song), he’s still a class act.  His other songs, Alchemist and Nowhere Without You, are great too. 

As a reminder, IRTE is an improvisational theater troupe, and much of the energy of Tammy’s Bachelorette depended on the reciprocal energy level of the audience.  On the night I attended, the audience was frustratingly tame.  The troublemaker in me wanted to suggest another drinking game, where the audience took a shot every time the word “penis” was said… but then, some of the attendees would have died of alcohol poisoning.  Being a largely improved show, some of the comedic missiles in Tammy’s Bachelorette hit their mark much better than others.  Often, the show deviated into the absurdist style of one of IRTE’s artistic antecedents, The Theater of the Ridiculous– meaning that the cast never took themselves overly seriously. Of course, this works perfectly for this show.  The ensemble cast always looked like they were having a blast, and were able to keep their energy levels high in this truly zany piece. 

 I just hope I get invited to the wedding…

IRTE’s Tammy’s Bachelorette continues through Saturday, March 5th at The Producers Club, 358 W. 44th St, New York City. The remaining show dates and times are:

Fri, Feb 18th 8:00pm
Sat, Feb 19th 8:00pm
Fri, Feb 25th 8:00pm
Sat, Feb 26th 8:00pm
Fri, Mar 4th 8:00pm
Sat, Mar 5th 8:00pm

Visit www.IRTEinfo.com for more about Improvisational Repertory Theatre Ensemble.

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