The Second City

One show offered million laughs in Rockford

January 28, 2010 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Those hoping to score a pair of tickets at the box office window to last Saturday’s Second City 50th Anniversary Tour performance were sorely disappointed. Tickets for the traveling comedy spectacular, held in the cozy confines of the 800-seat Rockford High School Fine Arts Auditorium, had sold out the week prior. In a leap of faith, the show’s presenter, the Rockford Education Foundation (REF), had booked a touring ensemble of Chicago’s famed Second City comedy theater. Judging from the audience reaction, during and after the evening’s performance, the REF had hit a homerun. The five-member touring company of multi-talented comedic actors, without benefit of a usual lead-in act to warm up the audience, had the lucky ticket holders continuously laughing out loud for the entire two-hour performance. Performing cutting-edge improvisational and satirical comedy sketches relevant to the times of our lives both past and present were Seth Weitberg, Brooke Bagnall, Rachel Miller, Abby McEnany, and Detroit-native Sam Richardson. Each a budding comedic star in their own right, combined they were a hilarious powerhouse. At every stop along the tour, depending on the make-up audience, very little subject matter is off limits. The Rockford crowd in attendance that evening could have been classified as “M” (for mature) with no children present. Thus sizing up the house during the opening skit, it appeared as though the troupe stepped their social comment up a notch. At the outset of the performance, we found Rachel lying across three chairs (meant, we soon learned, to be a couch). Entering the stage, Sam pantomimed the lighting of candles and the pouring of wine and proceeded to the couch, knelt down and began to inflate his date through a valve in her foot. Unbelievably, an inflatable doll sat upright! Just as things were beginning to “heat up,” the doll sprung a leak. Taken aback, Sam tried to re-inflate the doll, but the leak persisted. Amid uproarious laughter from the audience, we found Sam in sheer frustration and disappointment as the stage lights faded to black. Perhaps a highlight of the evening was what turned out to be an audience participation sketch. An ensemble member, Rachel, again appears onstage and announces to the audience they are the Rockford […]