“Buyer and Cellar” – Phoenix Theatre & “The TomKat Project” – Stray Cat Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ April 27, 2015


Local premieres of two funny but clever double-entre comedies are linked by one of the Valley’s most talented actor/director.  Stray Cat Theatre’s artistic director Ron May has staged Jonathan Tollins’ clever “Buyer and Cellar” as a riotous laugh fest for Phoenix Theatre where the director pulls a fine comic performance from Valley actor Toby Yatso.

May also features the craftily devious look at Tom Cruise’s sexuality in “The TomKat Project,” the season closer for his Stray Cat Theatre   May usually directs Stray Cat productions but this time associate artistic director, Louis Farber, staged the hysterical slap at the popular actor.

As if all this activity isn’t enough, May is starring in the one-man comedy, “One Man, Two Guvnors,” at Phoenix Theatre beginning May 20th.

Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

“Buyer and Seller’s” premise is fascinating.  Everyone is aware of Barbra Streisand’s talent and wealth.  What many don’t know is a unique Streisand quirk.  In the basement of her Hollywood mansion, Streisand has a collection of odd things she has accumulated over the years.  She needs someone to manage the collection and deal with her forays into the cellar to access her stuff as she reminiscences about her life and career.

Enter Alex, played with deft comic acumen by Yatso, who gets the job.  His interactions with Streisand are comic gems and Yatso plays all the characters including the singer.  We see Alex relating to the legendary star as well as to other people who come up during discussions about the collection.  Most hysterical is Alex himself cracking wise about Streisand and her junk.

The play is briskly performed and you’ll never tire of Yatso’s inventive comic machinations that are brilliantly guided by May’s direction.  May and Yatso squeeze every bit of humor out of Streisand’s sublime eccentricities.  This five star out of five comedic gem will entertain you because of May’s funny direction and Yatso’s comically dynamic performance.  It runs through May 3.  For tickets, call the Phoenix Theatre box office at 602-254-2151 or order tickets online at www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Grade: A

Stray Cat Theatre
Tempe, AZ

With seven actors portraying a host of wacky characters surrounding Tom Cruise and his wife, Katie Holmes, “The Tom Kat Project” looks with a squinted and skewed look at Cruise’s unusual situations and his rhapsodic devotion to Scientology beliefs.  Director Farber keeps things flowing swiftly as the revelations and bizarre shenanigans flow furiously.

Seven actors play 54 characters ranging from Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Nicole Kidman, and Tom Hanks to Cruise’s baby, Suri.  The superb ensemble goes back and forth among the characters with ease as they define each person with clear distinction.    Brady Weber plays playwright Brandon Ogborn as a crafty narrator.  Chris Mascarelli essays Cruise with awesome stature but also amazing denials of what he does.  Brandi Bigley is a loyal and trusting Holmes.   Tim Shawver has a field day with Spielberg.  Chanel Bragg creates a wacky Winfrey, Kellie Dunlap is a wild Suri, and David Chorley is a bizarre Scientology preacher.  “The Tom Kat Project” continues through May 9.  For tickets, call the Stray Cat Theatre box office at 480-227-1766 or order tickets online at www.straycattheatre.org.

Grade: A