Frodo Live!

Across the street from the first ever Bob's Big Boy.

A rapid transvalley auto trip came to an abrupt halt in the parking lot of the Falcon Theater, er, I mean Theatre. Having no further need of the automobile, we locked it and left it in the lot while we gathered our pre-purchased tickets for the night’s show, Fellowship!, and explored the bright, tchotchke-filled lobby.

Falcon Theater Theatre presents its four outer walls to the city-state of Burbank. By day the sun of California beats upon its roof. Within those walls various small theater troupes, primarily comic, cavort. Even while awaiting their cavorting, though, the gathering audience-to-be finds much — itself not least — that rewards gazing upon. Showbiz memorabilia — lots of it from theater-owner Garry Marshall‘s own TV and stage career — line the walls and fill the display cases of the lobby, arresting the attention of the swelling crowd whose latent potential as an audience will soon find conversion to kinetic energy in the form of laughter and applause on the other side of the auditorium doors. Before the ushers throw wide those doors, the photos, trophies, programs, posters and mementos of past shows hold each theater-goer immobile just long enough to provide opportunity for top-notch people-watching.

Nor did we allow that opportunity to pass ungrasped. If Los Angeles affords the best people-watching in the country, Los Angeles theater affords the best people-watching in Los Angeles.

The other half of the night’s entertainment took place in as swell a small theater as I’ve ever experienced. Honest-to-golly plush theater seats, generously spaced, rose on tiers that, unlike most let’s-put-on-a-show venues I’ve visited, did not boom hollowly under foot. The carpenters, themselves dedicated theater-people no doubt, had installed joists. Joists!

But of the magical experience beyond the auditorium doors I can say no more. Photography was strictly prohibited and I am punctilious enough to interpret that injunction to apply also to word pictures. My lips are sealed. I shall not breathe one syllable more about the theater nor about the funny musical show, Fellowship!, at which we so laughed and laughed and laughed.

Some information, of course, is public and can be revealed. The name of the comedy, as you see displayed in outdoor signage in the photo above, is Fellowship! It is a musical parody of the movie (not the book) Fellowship of the Rings. It would help to have seen the movie, but you don’t absolutely need to put yourself through Peter Jackson’s desecration to enjoy the spoof. The basic story — a diverse band of elves, dwarves, wizards and hobbits frustrates some kind of evil eyeball — gets neatly told in outline, and then, since so lofty an epic as Tolkien’s sweeping mythopoeic tale simply screams out for demolition, gets demolished.

What a cast! I would break the code of silence imposed by the Falcon Theater, er, I mean Theatre, to tell you about them, but respect for the house rules stills my tongue beyond saying each actor is a circus of one. I wish I could go back nine or ten times to give all my attention to each individual actor per performance — they’re all so antic you hardly know where to look — but even at Falcon Theater’s (Theatre’s!) low, low ticket prices, personal budgetary constraints enforce a strict limit of one viewing.

I do the rest of the cast an injustice to single out for kudos Steve Purnick playing both a George Burns inspired Bilbo and an exasperated Boromir, but I willingly bear that additional weight to my already staggering burden of guilt.

All this is to say: trust me, go. Will you laugh? Oh, reader, I am confident you will laugh. Will you tap your toes during the many comic songs? Of this I am less certain. After the show will you still be so mirth-filled you don’t mind much being unable to find the entrance ramp to the 101 west? Yeah, sure. Just go.

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