Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

‘Bullshot:’ Funny business at its best

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Tom Fedor⁄The Gazette
Brenda Crooks as Lenya Von Brunno (back) and Kiersten Harris as Rosemary Fenton in ‘‘Bullshot Crummond.”
Any play that begins with miniature figurines parachuting to the stage on a zip line almost guarantees to be entertaining.

The Fredericktowne Players’ ‘‘Bullshot Crummond” is just that, and then some.

The opening bit with the parachutes represents a plane crash. The survivors, Otto Von Brunno and his mistress Lenya —a dangerous, conniving duo —hide behind a bush initially illuminated with green lights. But when the crux of the plot is revealed — the Von Brunno’s search for a mysterious formula — the classic mystery tune chimes and the stage turns gray to create suspense, all happening with the precision timing of theatrical skills.

And timing is everything in this slapstick comedy, and the cast does not disappoint. From extremely animated expressions and over-exaggerated British accents to an obnoxious Spandex ‘‘disguise,” a fake tarantula, and sexual innuendo, everything is pulled together for a truly entertaining comedy.

Cast and crew deserve a lot of credit. Although each of the characters was important, Brett Templeton as Hugh ‘‘Bullshot” Crummond could not have done a better job. His energy and enthusiasm in his portrayal of a sometimes clumsy and accident-prone Bullshot is highly entertaining.

Templeton unabashedly strutted across stage in spandex shorts, contorted his facial expressions while deciphering clues or attempting to track Von Brunno, and fell on the stage multiple times during ‘‘fights.” As much energy as that must have required, it was exhausting just watching.

The talents of Tony DeRosa were also extremely impressive. His representation of Otto Von Brunno’s conniving, scheming, lifestyle was extremely convincing and natural. The German accent was perfect — most notably in a scene where DeRosa portrays a German and a visiting Italian at the same time. DeRosa pulls off both accents perfectly, while simultaneously changing costumes and carrying on a two-sided conversation. It was hilarious and extremely remarkable at the same time.

Bob Causer’s representations of multiple characters should be noted as well, as they were very diverse. His roles included Algy (Crummond’s good friend), a policeman, a professor, a waiter, an inspector, and a henchman, all with different costumes, and very different dialogue demands.

Brenda Crooks and Kiersten Harris completed the cast with convincing, highly entertaining roles as Lenya Von Brunno and Rosemary Fenton, respectively.

Just as in classic comedic detective movies, there were simplistic details that did not make much sense, yet added to the silliness, such as three duck silhouettes being strung across the stage and a dollhouse on wheels (representing a village as seen from a distance). Both drew extra laughs from the crowd.

Everyone involved in this production deserves a pat on the back. It’s top-notch quality, slapstick entertainment. If there were any glitches, they weren’t apparent. Catch ‘‘Bullshot” Crummond while you can. You won’t be disappointed.

‘Bullshot Crummond’

When: 8 p.m. Feb. 1-2; 2 p.m. Feb. 3

Where: Jack B. Kussmaul Theatre, 7932 Opossumtown Pike, Frederick

Tickets: $20 for adults; $16 for students, seniors and military with ID; $8 for children 12 and younger (Group rates available)