By Edith Decker
of the Daily Courier
Stepping not very far from their real lives, songwriting team and musical comedy actor brothers Bob and Jim Walton wrote a two-man show. ... about a songwriting team of musical comedy actor brothers.
In the show, it’s the 1940s and the Martin brothers have been called from Broadway to Hollywood to rescue a movie.
In real life, it’s 2001 and the Walton brothers have had a hit for an AIDS organization on Broadway and decide to work on a new musical together to be produced at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut.
“Double Trouble: A Musical Tour de Farce” locates the fine line between simple comedy and total schmaltz and tap dances ” then stomps ” on it on the way to a night of screwball fun with a dose of blue humor.
Playing the Martin Brothers in the new production at Oregon Cabaret Theatre in Ashland are John Keating, as Jimmy, and Galen Schloming as Bobby.
That’s not really the extent of the work these two have to do. Both play another five characters in this high speed chase of a show, which gives the dressers (deservedly) second billing.
Changing Keating from half-deaf and mostly blind sound engineer Bix Minky to sexy starlet Rebecca Lefleurdelemaganis isn’t easy, for instance. And making studio boss Merwin Garner into his secretary Millie is no picnic either.
Dressers Stephanie Jones and Maureen Vaughey also appear on stage occasionally, in disguise while someone’s backstage flying into a quick change.
In fact, many funny subterfuges are required for just two people (and two dressers and one mannequin ” “I bet he feels like a dummy!”) to play 10 characters. Add a sound booth, an intercom and a handy hallway, bathroom and closet, and it all somehow works out. Although, since starlet Rebecca tries to seduce both brothers, it’s no surprise that, when we see her the second time, she says, “Why, I’m not the same woman I was a few minutes ago!”
Her song to the brothers, “You Can Do Anything” isn’t only encouragement, it’s a promise.
Adding pressure is the boss, who greets the newly arrived brothers with “If I don’t like your songs, you’re fired. And welcome to Hollywood.”
And Bix (Keating) the sound man adds some bonus humor with his bad hearing. If you’re up on classic movie stars, you’ll laugh all the harder when “smells like barbecued chicken” turns into “yells like Barbara Stanwyck?” or “tape recorder” turns into Cole Porter for Bix.
Keeping the office together, and providing some fun for the brothers’ new agent Swifty (Keating), is the secretary Millie (Schloming). But she’s no Rebecca, no matter how much they look alike part of the time.
This is not a tour of 1940s hits; these are all original songs by the Walton brothers, accompanied by Sarah Wussow on piano and directed by Jim Giancarlo.
Pros Keating and Schloming get a workout, as you’d imagine. They not only change characters, but sing and dance their way through 14 numbers. It may be the most complicated two-actor production ever at Cabaret.
Will Millie and Swifty bond over “Cold Sesame Noodles”?
Will Rebecca the vixen break up the brothers? (Hint: One of the best songs is “Better Off Without You”).
Will Seymour the intern impress anyone with his “Very Good First Impression”?
You’ll have to see the show to find out. Be prepared to laugh out loud and watch two grown men sweat.