For 13 seasons in a row, Mike Collins has led his team of squawkers around the Booth Playhouse stage while throwing powerful punches at everything from local politics to national news. This year was no different, and droves of patrons came out to make certain they didn’t miss one jab.
Having reviewed this show for at least the past seven years, I noticed some unfamiliar faces in the cast, and a few others that were missing. Kevin Harris, who has participated the last 12 years was unable to perform due to having hip replacement recently. But it seems that he enjoyed the show as much as the rest of us – though possibly bittersweet.
“Charlotte Squawks is Back Again”, a parody of “Alexander Hamilton” from the Broadway play “Hamilton” was the first performance of the evening. For those patrons, like myself, who haven’t seen the play, it was a comical treat. Though they weren’t elaborately decked out in centuries old garb, the ruffled shirts and bustiers effectively mimicked the original style.
Like always the mayor helps kick off the evening with a recorded comment of some sort and you guessed it – Jennifer Roberts’ face and golden curls were plastered on every screen. But that wasn’t her only appearance. Well, sort of. Veteran player Susan Roberts Knowlson appeared as Roberts in her own parody entitled “Like a Mayor”, an ode to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”. And her funky mane was the center of attention as well as her well know drab attire, coined, “The Jennifer Roberts Collection”. Looking befuddled, amid the audience’s snickers, Roberts can’t understand why she’s catching so much flack. Joel Ford and Vi Lyles lookalikes also make appearances (they’re both challenging Roberts for her seat).
Robbie Jaeger as #45, with his fly away hair and famous puckered lips was political gold. I mean, in this day, how can you have a satirical performance without Trump being centerstage? Trump’s ‘alleged’ pal Putin caught some laughs as well. The Squawkers also chronicled the presidential election night as Hillary backers went from celebrating too soon, to pulling out hair and biting holes in bottom lips in agony.
Patrick Ratchford is back and didn’t disappoint with his uncanny resemblance to NC’s former Governor and Duke Energy executive Pat McCrory. Since McCrory’s upset to Roy Cooper in November’s election, McCrory has added to the increase of the unemployment rate since he can’t land a gig. My husband was even recruited to assist in presenting the faux McCrory with a Pizza Hut crew jacket in the second act in a parody entitled “Need a Job”.
Newcomers Olivia Edge, Andy Falkenberry, and Nneki Obi-Melekwe bravely hold their own in the midst of all the comical chaos. Nneki gets extra points for belting out a bluesy “The Bill is Gone”, a parody of BB King’s “The Thrill is Gone”, alongside Jaeger. In case you don’t embrace it the first time, the two drill it in deeper with a reprise in Act II.
In all, the Squawks players crooned out 26 Brian Kahn creations that garnered guffaws from the entire audience. Collins explained that some songs were changed as recent as 20 minutes before the show and the cast more than stepped up to the plate. Though the number 13 is usually a sign of bad news, this 13th year had lots of luck on it’s side.
For more information visit www.blumenthalarts.org.