Spoleto 2007 » Comedy

BUZZ-O-METER ‌ Comedy

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Paul Thomas: Late Bloomer
The Complete History of Charleston for Morons
The Banana Monologues
The Fowler Family Radio Hour
Improv Smackdown!
Scheer and McBrayer
HOBO the Musical
The Have Nots! Comedy Improv Jam
Harvard Sailing Team
Mary Kay Has a Posse
Upright Citizens Brigade Tour Company
Caeti and Bills
Big Dicktionary
Late Night Players
Moral Fixation
Stand-Up Showdown
The Cody Rivers Show: Comedy Theatre Spectacular
Skinny White Comics
Human Giant
Buffoons
Fringe Finale

 

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Paul Thomas: Late Bloomer

WHAT IS IT? A solo comedy show from one-half of the acclaimed, Chicago-based Defiant Thomas Brothers. WHY SEE IT? Partnered with Seth Thomas (no relation), Paul played Frankie J’s and Second City in Chicago and won the best sketch show award at the 2005 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. Since the pair split a year back, Paul has become known for monologues like Waitress Wanted. But Late Bloomer sees him getting eclectic. This is a chance for the versatile comedian to sing, tell jokes, and wax lyrical on life in a close-knit setting (the 50-seat East Bay Theatre). WHO SHOULD GO? Can’t decide which stand-up, theatrical, or musical show to go to? Thomas offers a three-for-one. BUZZ: He may be a late bloomer, but this is the perfect time to watch Thomas come into his own. See preview on pg. 91. (Nick Smith)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $15 • (1 hour) • May 25 at 8 p.m., May 26 at 8.30 p.m., May 27 at 7 p.m. • Buxton’s East Bay Theatre, 184 East Bay St. • 554-6060

 

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The Complete History of Charleston for Morons

WHAT IS IT? A lighthearted look at Holy City history, created exclusively for the IQ-challenged. WHY SEE IT? This 70-minute local history lesson never gets dull, thanks to a tongue-in-cheek script by Have Nots! co-founder Greg Tavares. The show pokes fun at game shows, Hollywood movies, overblown newscasts, Southern clichés, and the audience’s sad lack of chronological knowledge. The skits benefit from a carefully researched framework and the close-knit chemistry among Tavares and his co-director/presenters, R.W. Smith and Caleb Usry. WHO SHOULD GO? Anyone with the slightest interest in Chucktown history would have to be a moron to miss this. BUZZ: Morons has evolved and improved over its 18-month run and the inclusion of nonplussed tourists in the audience always adds to the show’s energy. See preview on pg. 90. (Nick Smith)
Piccolo Spoleto • $15 • (1 hour 10 min.) • May 25 at 7 p.m.; May 26, June 9 at 2 p.m.; May 27 at 3 p.m., June 3 at 4 p.m. • Theatre 99, 280 Meeting St. • 554-6060



 

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The Banana Monologues

WHAT IS IT? A one-man show based on a book written by Theatre 99 troupe-member Jason Cooper about an ex-girlfriend who apparently gave him the greatest sex ever. Acted out by Theatre 99 player John Brennan, Banana is like the Vagina Monologues, only without the vaginas and the seriousness. WHY SEE IT? The sword effects that follow a story about two guys fighting over a Southern belle who can’t resist a bottle of Merlot are worth the price of admission. WHO SHOULD GO? Those who would love to learn a thing or two about a guy’s perspective on a messy break-up. And then there‘s the perk of seeing a grown man making jokes while dressed in a banana suit. BUZZ: Brennan is funny, but if your budget is small, go see him perform in Big Dicktionary. See preview on pg. 87. (Lindsay Sainlar)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $15 • (1 hour) • May 26, June 2, 8, and 9 at 8 p.m. • American Theater, 446 King St. • 554-6060

 

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The Fowler Family Radio Hour

WHAT IS IT? Six Chicago-based, Southern ex-pats poke fun at their homeland as they improvise their way through a weekly radio broadcast in the fictional town of Henley (state unspecified). WHY SEE IT? The cast wears over-the-top “Southern” costumes, speaks in embellished drawl, and includes characters like the “mildly racist family patriarch” Calvin Coolidge Fowler. There’s potential for flamboyant funniness, as the variety show format includes a “You Downright Guessed It” game show and cooking tips from Lori Beth Fowler Hickok (wife of ambiguously-gay-country-tribute-guitar-picker Taylor Hickok.) Improvisation plus cultural stereotypes could equal grand guffaws. WHO SHOULD GO? The Fowler Family keeps it pretty clean, so older kids might enjoy the jokes, songs, and costumes. The fast-paced variety format assures that even the heavily ADD-stricken won’t doze off. BUZZ: The show enjoyed a three-month, three-theater run last year in Chicago, culminating with a Christmas Spectacular show. We’ll see if an hour of displaced-Southerner humor carries that kind of clout here in the real deal. See preview on pg. 92. (Stratton Lawrence)
Piccolo Spoleto • $15 • (1 hour) • May 26, 27 at 5 p.m.; May 28 at 6 p.m.; May 29 at 7 p.m. • Theatre 99, 280 Meeting St. • 554-6060

 


Improv Smackdown!

WHAT IS IT? Six Theatre 99 ensemble members go head-to-head in an improvised athletic face-off. WHY SEE IT? The show starts with everyone wrestling for the official “Smackdown Belt.” The game show/sporting event format allows the audience to pick the games and judge the winners. After lightning rounds, two finalists go mano y mano for the ultimate prize. WHO SHOULD GO? This is a comedy cage match fans shouldn’t miss. Charleston’s comic royalty, the Have Nots!, will be contestants. Bring extra socks (in case you laugh them off). BUZZ: Theatre 99 started their Smackdown! three years ago and recently brought it back. They’ve had six winners in as many 2007 appearances. The Piccolo battles should be heated! See preview on pg. 88. (Stratton Lawrence)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $12 • (1 hour) • May 25, 30 at 9 p.m.; May 26 at 9:30 p.m.; June 6 at 7:30 p.m. • Theatre 99, 280 Meeting St. • 554-6060

 

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Scheer and McBrayer

WHAT IS IT? World-class improv from two of the country’s top talents. WHY SEE IT? Two years ago, when Piccolites last had the chance to catch comics Paul Scheer and Jack McBrayer bust open Theatre 99’s Fringe, the pair were best known for their work with New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (itself a regular fixture of Piccolo Fringes and Charleston Comedy Festivals past and present) and Scheer’s fairly regular gig as a commentator on VH1’s Best Week Ever. In the time since, McBrayer landed a sweet spot in Talladega Nights and a featured role as Kenneth the page in 30 Rock. Scheer, meanwhile, has his it big with Charleston Comedy Fest vet Aziz Ansari and their new MTV comedy sketch show Human Giant (which is also making an appearance in this year’s Fringe, albeit without Scheer). WHO SHOULD GO? Sentient creatures with functioning frontal lobes. BUZZ: These guys are already too big for Piccolo. They’re only coming because The Have Nots! have their cellphone numbers — and for the fried chicken at Jestine’s Kitchen. (Patrick Sharbaugh)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $15 • (50 min.) • May 31, June 1 at 9:30 p.m.; June 2 at 6 p.m. • Theatre 99, 280 Meeting St. • 554-6060

 

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HOBO the Musical

WHAT IS IT? An all-singing, all-shuffling homage to the homeless by 21-year-old Henry Riggs, a Theatre 99 family member and College of Charleston student. WHY SEE IT? The combination of comedy, music, and social commentary hits the right note with our readers, who voted this the Best Non-Piccolo/Spoleto Play of 2006. Riggs takes his bum subject and weaves an engaging tale of the villainous mayor of Justice, who wants to clean up the streets at the expense of HOBO’s homeless protagonists. The jokes are slick, the singing’s intentionally rough, and the breakdown of musical conventions is spot-on. WHO SHOULD GO? Anyone who hasn’t had the chance to catch this hit, which has been entertaining local audiences since its premiere in March ‘06. BUZZ: This high-level musical about low-level life has more buzz than the flies ’round a wino. See preview on pg. 89. (Nick Smith)
Piccolo Spoleto • $15 • (1 hour) • May 26, June 8 and 9 at 7 p.m.; May 27 at 8.30 p.m. • Buxton’s East Bay Theatre, 184 East Bay St. • 554-6060

 

The Have Nots! Comedy Improv Jam

WHAT IS IT? The three founders of Theatre 99 and the all-too-human empire upon which its Piccolo Fringe is built perform five shows of their own, with special guests from the Piccolo Fringe lineup. WHY SEE IT? Greg Tavares, Brandy Sullivan, and Timmy Finch grew tired of knocking at Piccolo’s door and having it slammed in their faces, so six years ago they started their own fringe. The trio of top improvisers, known as The Have Nots!, founded their improv comedy company Theatre 99 — a place, a name, and a company of 30-plus people — around the same time, and it’s now the 800-lb. gorilla of the Piccolo Theatre Series. None of this is an accident. WHO SHOULD GO? Those who appreciate belly laughs, gut-busting guffaws, and the sweet agony of laughing too much. BUZZ: The Have Nots! are the secret sauce to Theatre 99’s thickburger. (Patrick Sharbaugh)
Piccolo Spoleto • $15 • (1 hour 45 min.) • May 26, 27, June 1 at 7 p.m.; June 2 at 8 p.m.; June 8 at 7:30 p.m. • Theatre 99, 280 Meeting St. • 554-6060

 

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Harvard Sailing Team

WHAT IS IT? A “Clean-Cut Ivy League Sketch Comedy” team of nine men and women that’s enjoyed runs at UCB Theatre, Gotham Comedy Club, and Caroline’s in New York. They even come properly attired in preppy clothes. WHY SEE IT? This theatrical sketch comedy troupe has been hailed for living up to their descriptions by eschewing curse words and including song and dance in their rehearsed and choreographed performances. They’ve earned praise for their clean and theatrical comedy from Time Out New York and Paper magazines. WHO SHOULD GO? Anyone who likes well-rounded sketch comedy should definitely check these guys out. Those who don’t want to take a chance on improv possibly letting them down in the laughs department. Anyone who’s tired of comedians depending on f-, c-, p-, d-, and s- bombs to make people laugh (even if they are good in a pinch). BUZZ: In a flood of sketch comedy and improv groups, sometimes it’s difficult to stand out. But this bunch seems to have carved out a place for themselves, and they’re getting good press. See preview on pg. 87. (Jennifer Corley)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $15 • (1 hour) • May 27 at 9:30 p.m.; May 28 at 8 p.m.; May 29 at 9 p.m.; May 30 at 7 p.m.; May 31 at 6 p.m. • Theatre 99, 280 Meeting St. • 554-6060

 

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Mary Kay Has a Posse

WHAT IS IT? Four very funny female fixtures (at one time or another) of Charleston’s comedy scene — Jessica Chase, Jennifer Dyer-Buddin, Camille Lowman, and Have Not! Brandy Sullivan — use a spoof of The View as a framing device for nonstop improv hilarity. WHY SEE IT? Well, do you like to laugh? Seriously, though, these four women, all now flung to the far reaches of the country (with the exception of Sullivan) reunite only one or twice a year and their subsequent excitement about performing together is palpable. WHO SHOULD GO? Fans of quick-witted, sharply-barbed improv, and anyone who believes the chauvinistic bullshit about how “women aren’t funny” — give the Posse 10 minutes and they’ll shred that fallacy right in front of your eyes. BUZZ: Like we said, the Posse reunions are few and far between, so take advantage while the getting’s good, and — hey, get that mind out of the gutter! (Sara Miller)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $15 • (1 hour) • June 1 at 5 p.m.; June 2 at 4 p.m.; June 3 at 6 p.m. • Theatre 99, 280 Meeting St. • 554-6060



 

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Upright Citizens Brigade Tour Company

WHAT IS IT? A 90-minute long-form improvisation free-for-all. Well, not really; it’s divided into two halves. It’s an 8’9” athletic bisexual improv beast of a 100-year-old female (according to UCB TourCo’s MySpace page) that takes an audience suggestion and bases the show on it. WHY SEE IT? TourCo’s comedians have performed on SNL, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Colbert Report, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Chappelle’s Show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Reno 911!, The Office, and, of course, UCB’s stage. Impressive credentials usually mean they know what they’re doing and will likely provide some top-notch entertainment. WHO SHOULD GO? You. Unless you’re offended by mentions of anatomical parts and actions sometimes taken towards them. Then not you, but maybe your friends. BUZZ: Face it: you could round up litter from the streets, dub it Upright Citizens Brigade Garbage, and people would still come to see it. The name deservedly carries a lot of weight. Buzz is high for anything springing from UCB’s loins. (Jennifer Corley)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $15 • (1 hour) • June 2 at 10:30 p.m.; June 3 and 4 at 8 p.m.; June 5 at 9 p.m.; June 8 at 10 p.m.; June 9 at 7:30 p.m. • Theatre 99, 280 Meeting St. • 554-6060

 

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Caeti and Bills

WHAT IS IT? On the one hand, something familiar, in a good way. Two Second City alums, both of whom performed at Piccolo back when Second City was the most consistently entertaining thing at the festival. On the other hand, a unique comedy fusion, subtly folding audience members into planned sketches. WHY SEE IT? Frank Caeti and Jen Bills are a great team, having worked together since joining Second City in 1999. WHO SHOULD GO? People who like improv but are tired of shows where some drunk guy in the crowd always calls out “a blender.” BUZZ: The last two years, Caeti has been a cast member on MadTV, which just wrapped its 12th season. (Jonathan Sanchez)






PICCOLO SPOLETO • $15 • (1 hour) • May 27, 31 at 9:30 p.m.; May 28 at 3 p.m.; May 29 at 8 p.m.; May 30 at 8:30 p.m.; June 2 at 10 p.m. • Charleston Ballet Theatre, 477 King St. • 554-6060

 

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Big Dicktionary

WHAT IS IT? Timmy Finch and John Brennan man these long-form improvisational acts in which the two pick a word from a library-sized dictionary and create scenes based around the definitions their fingers fall across. WHY SEE IT? Because truth is comedic and there’s truth in comedy, and maybe there’s a chance to extend your vocabulary, or learn new ways to love a word. Think back to the most stoner conversation you’ve had, add www.dictionary.com and intelligence, good acting, hand and facial gestures, and Finch will give you a Best Week Ever kind of “oh man, that’s funny” reason to laugh. WHO SHOULD GO? Anyone who appreciates more than good comedy done well. BUZZ: Why not? Because these guys are gangsters. Brennan recently took the mantle of Best Local Comic from Finch in this year’s Best of Charleston survey. They’ve got street cred. (Lindsay Sainlar)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $12 • (50 min.) • May 30, June 6 at 8 p.m. • Stars at the American Theater, 446 King St. • 554-6060

 

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Late Night Players

WHAT IS IT? Sketch comedy in the vein of The Kids in the Hall, but more literary, with sharper satire and just a smidge more of a political bent. WHY SEE IT? The four Brandeis-educated men of the Late Night Players are all hilarious in their own ways, but as a team, they’re forming like Voltron up there on stage. WHO SHOULD GO? Word nerds (the LNP make a mean anagram); fans of adventurous, intelligent comedy; geeky college kids who need a hero or four. BUZZ: While the LNP make their bread by performing on stages across the country, their videos — a Wal-Mart-condemning Harry Potter spoof and a brand-new Spider-Man “Text Your Own Adventure” clip — have been blowing up YouTube, with both vids racking up well over 100,000 views each. Our advice? Catch the real deal before it’s too late. (Sara Miller)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $15 • (1 hour) • May 30 and 31 at 7:30 p.m.; June 1 and 2 at 7 p.m. • Buxton’s East Bay Theatre, 184 East Bay St. • 554-6060



 

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Moral Fixation

WHAT IS IT? Greg Tavares, Lee Lewis, and Caleb Usry of Theatre 99 decided it would be a good idea to get together and ask a live audience to yell out an emotion or situation, then each recite a monologue about the feelings that word conjures up, and play out their ideas. WHY SEE IT? Imagine the funniest guys you knew in college, whose conversations went from dinosaurs to mermaids because someone mentioned they were tired, and put them on a stage and watch them sweat under bright lights as they attempt to continuously one-up each other on ideas that don’t make sense, but do. WHO SHOULD GO? Anyone who’s tired of watching 30 Rock reruns online when they crave a good laugh. Just as a warning, all the chuckling and chortlings and clapping will remind you of canned laughter. BUZZ: After catching a show a month ago, a local funny girl who knows her comedy and watches SNL like she has nothing better to do said she wanted to hug and marry Lewis for making her literally slap her knee. (Lindsay Sainlar)PICCOLO SPOLETO • $12 • (50 min.) • May 31, June 7 at 8 p.m. • Stars at the American Theater, 446 King St. • 554-6060

 

Stand-Up Showdown

WHAT IS IT? Eric Hunter leads the good times and hosts a group of stand-ups who promise to amuse with offbeat humor running amok. WHY SEE IT? Charleston has a wealth of improv opportunities year-round, but stand-up doesn’t show up that often. WHO SHOULD GO? It’s a family friendly show with a “PG” rating. BUZZ: It’s stand-up, but it’s not really a showdown. Just good-time fun. (Greg Hambrick)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $15 • (1 hour) • May 27, 28 at 9 p.m.; May 29, 30, June 4, 5 at 8 p.m. • Tonik Club, 479 King St. • 554-6060

 

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The Cody Rivers Show: Comedy Theatre Spectacular

WHAT IS IT? A Seattle-based two-man sketch comedy zanyfest starring Renaissance men (actors/dancers/singers) Andrew Connor and Mike Mathieu, who center their comedic, musical, and “wildly physical” show on a mythical country singer named Cody Rivers. WHY SEE IT? While Seattle may have their coastal-towniness in common with us, one thing they’ve got a glut of is high-quality, inventive theatre. So when The Cody Rivers Show gets a review from Seattle Post-Intelligencer theatre critic Joe Adcock that says, “I see a lot of funny entertainment in the course of my work. The Cody Rivers Show is the best that has come along in ... well, in a long time,” it’s some seriously high praise. WHO SHOULD GO? Sketch comedy fans looking for a wholly original production that will make you slap yourself in the forehead and say, “I never thought they would do that!” BUZZ: If you haven’t heard anyone talking about this show yet, just wait. We’re pegging it as one of the breakout shows of this year’s impressive Piccolo Fringe line-up. (Sara Miller)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $15 • (1 hour) • June 5 at 7:30 p.m.; June 6 at 3 p.m.; June 7 at 8 p.m.; June 8 at 6 p.m.; June 9 at 5 p.m. • Theatre 99, 280 Meeting St. • 554-6060

 

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Skinny White Comics

WHAT IS IT? Well, the title kind of answers that question, now doesn’t it? WHY SEE IT? Tom Shillue and company cracked us up last year, and they’re venturing back down to our fair city from New York to have at it again. The shows will be hosted by former 96 Wave morning show host Kenny “Z” Zimlinghaus and also features another, you guessed it, skinny white comic, College of Charleston grad David Lee Nelson. So if you’ve got journal-writing friends, really want to stop global warming, have ever been to Philadelphia, really want to stop global warming, have trouble with a green fairy, really want to stop global warming, or really want to stop global warming, then you need to see the Skinny White Comics. WHO SHOULD GO? Skinny white comic wannabes, people with the issues mentioned above, and anyone who really needs a severe subversive side-splitting are hereby put on notice that attendance is mandatory. Come on, don’t you want to stop global warming? BUZZ: These guys fell under the category “smash hit” last year, so the shows this year promise even more laughs. (Robert Bondurant)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $15, $12 seniors and students • (1 hour 20 min.) • June 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 at 8:30 p.m.; June 9 at 3 p.m. • Physicians Auditorium, 66 George St. • 554-6060

 

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Human Giant

WHAT IS IT? A live multimedia stage version of MTV’s new sketch comedy show Human Giant. WHY SEE IT? Human Giant members Aziz Ansari, Paul Scheer, Rob Huebel, and director Jason Woliner — old Upright Citizens Brigade hands and Piccolo Fringe vets — were scheduled to appear at last year’s festival but had to pull out at the last instant because of a late-breaking deal with MTV. True to their good-guy nature and their S.C. roots, they agreed to reschedule the gig this year, even though Human Giant has blown up all over MTV since its April premiere and they’re now famous international celebrities and playboys. The stage show’s a mix of the funny short films the three are known for plus some stand-up, a smattering of live sketches, and very likely some improv. WHO SHOULD GO? Sure, you can see Human Giant on MTV, but c’mon — you don’t really want to risk being caught by your friends watching MTV when you can sit within spitting distance of two future masters of the comedy universe (Scheer, unfortunately, has a scheduling conflict and won’t be with Ansari and Huebel for these shows). BUZZ: Short films like “Shutterbugs” and “Shittiest Mix Tape” were highlights of Aziz Ansari’s 2006 Charleston Comedy Festival appearance, and the YouTube shorts like “Clell Tickle: Indie Marketing Guru” and “The Illusionators” have been viewed millions of times. (Patrick Sharbaugh)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $15 • (1 hour) • June 6 at 10 p.m.; June 7, 8, 9 at 9:30 p.m. • Charleston Ballet Theatre, 477 King St. • 554-6060

 

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Buffoons

WHAT IS IT? Sketch comedy of a looser style, starring Upright Citizens Brigade stage and Late Night with Conan O’Brien veterans Charlie Sanders, Bobby Moynihan, and Eugene Cordero. WHY SEE IT? Buffoons scored big with audiences at the 2006 Charleston Comedy Festival. They liken themselves to Abbott and Costello. WHO SHOULD GO? Those who saw Buffoons at the Comedy Fest, those who couldn’t get a ticket, and those who were too lazy to try to find parking downtown. And all those who weren’t in Charleston then, too. BUZZ: Excitement around here seems relatively high since those lovable Buffoons stole Charlestonians’ hearts. (Jennifer Corley)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $15 • (1 hour) • June 6 and 7 at 9:30 p.m. • Theatre 99, 280 Meeting St. • 554-6060

 

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Fringe Finale

WHAT IS IT? The Have Nots! host a send-off grand slam comedy party for all the acts in town for Piccolo Fringe. WHY SEE IT? This is Theatre 99’s smorgasbord, greatest hits, pu-pu platter of a show. Both the Upright Citizens Brigade and The Cody Rivers Show will participate. If you saw the Comedy Fest Finale last January, you know this can’t be missed. WHO SHOULD GO? Anyone with a sense of humor will bust a gut at the Finale, but leave the kids at home. BUZZ: It’s the end-all show! The hodge-podge finale is a hot ticket, guaranteed to sell out, so buy ’em now. UCB churns out the stars, so any time they come to town is a good chance to “see them when...” (Stratton Lawrence)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $17 • (2 hours) • June 9 at 9:30 p.m. • Theatre 99, 280 Meeting St. • 554-6060

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