The Triumphant One Night Only Return of Ten Tops at Sacred Fools

JENIFER HAMEL Hosts Ten Tops

Ten performers take the stage for seven minutes each to sing, dance, recite or read original material to a Los Angeles audience who, most likely, has been exposed repeatedly to mediocre improv theater.  It is sometimes painful and often predictable.  I'm pleased to have encountered a night in which I didn't know what to expect, and was, every time, genuinely surprised and always entertained.   I haven't come across a variety show that tops the Sacred Fools organized open mic night for format or content.  The participants in the December 6th One Night Only Return of Ten Tops deserve wild applause.   I hope for the One Night Only Return of Ten Tops to return for one night only again and again.

Each performer for Ten Tops signs up prior to the event either via the Sacred Fools website or when they walk in the door the night of the show.  Several members of the evening's cast were old friends from old times, and previously affiliated with the Sacred Fools Theater.  The Ten Tops, "One Night Only Return," was a sort of reunion show for visiting host Jenifer Hamel, who recreated Yoko Ono's "Cut Piece" for her seven-minute portion of the program.  Ms. Hamel also assured me that the "One Night Only Return" might mean they'll see how it goes and decide if they can do it again.  Ten Tops ceased to exist with any consistency when it became glaringly obvious that the number of willing performers greatly outweighed the number of eager audience members.  The small Sacred Fools Theater was nearly full for Ten Tops, and the fourteen pieces were each well received.  More than ten people made it to the stage, but I think the form is to be loosely followed.  The point here is the creative material.  The floor is open, and as the woman at the ticket counter said, "We don't have programs because we don't know what's going to happen."

An original rap happened.  Hilarious monologues concerning Catholicism and Kinko's happened.  The improv group Actual Size sang a happening tribute to karaoke.  A man brought his dog on stage and demonstrated her well-trained tricks.  A woman spread towels on the floor and read from a trashy romance novel.  Another woman sang a Weird Al Yankovic song.  Listing these pieces in a printed program would certainly detract from the joy of having them unfold spontaneously on a bare stage.

Ten Tops is both a forum for goof-offs and for purveyors of serious performance.  It's possible that Ten Tops success on its one night return might have to do with its infrequency.  Performers aren't as stretched as they might be if they had to produce and deliver on a regular basis.  Maybe the notion that this Ten Tops could be the final Ten Tops lends itself to the enthusiastic spirit infecting everyone in the room.  I was in the room and discovered a lively gang of talented performers sharing their art with a supportive crowd.  I suppose that can happen in a room where anything is encouraged to happen, before the buzzer goes off, of course.

The Sacred Fools Theater is located at 660 North Heliotrope in Hollywood.  Parking is available adjacent to the theater.  For more information, shows, times and ticket prices, check out www.sacredfools.org.

 

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