by Lorie Lewis Ham
If you love reality shows like America’s Got Talent, or better yet love to make fun of them, then The Great Talent Challenge is the show for you! It is currently on stage at the Reedley Opera House for the next two weeks.
The Great Talent Challenge is an original show written by Reedley’s River City Theatre Co. Artistic Director Mark Norwood, who said all the shows he writes are written out of necessity. “River City Theatre needed a show in this slot and I have always wanted to write a play where pop culture and reality television meets theatrical farce and absurdity.”
“The writing of this show came together relatively quickly,” continued Mark. “Some projects take longer than others and some projects have a less pressing deadline. For example, I am working on A Royal Fanny which will not open until next February so I can pick it up and put it away as ideas come to me. The Great Talent Challenge was a writing binge. Some plays take years to make it to the point where I feel the idea should be produced.”
The setting for The Great Talent Challenge is the filming of a national TV talent show—the show audience becomes the TV audience and is addressed in the beginning by the stage manager for the TV show played by River City newcomer Bryan Awbrey. There are three outrageous judges played by long time River City actor Matt Wiebe, Chris Giese, and Good Company Player’s regular Valerie Munoz. Show co hosts are played by Jeff Lusk and Stacie Hall—whose characters bring their personal life onto camera.
The “talent” acts all are competing for fifty million dollars and a life time supply of Insta-burgers. “One of the talent acts decides to take the entire studio hostage in order to steal the prizes,” shared Mark. “A surprise hero saves the day.”
Acts include an eight year old girl dressed up like Lady Gaga, a very strange magician, a dog act, a surprise act, and several singing acts which include local Reedley Troubadour Ron Surabian and last year’s Reedley High Vocalist of the year Jessica Ham—both of which did a great job (of course being Jessica’s mom I may be a bit prejudice).Jeff Lusk is a riot as usual and one of the highlights of the show is a duet between him and Stacie. The judges are hilarious–from Matt’s drunken one, to Chris’ character’s obvious similarities to Charlie Sheen, to Valerie’s over the hill actress who always brings the focus back to her past glories. One of my favorite moments is the surprise hero at the end!
The Great Talent Challenge is filled with funny moments that will have you laughing much more than just when the stage manager holds up the sign directing the audience to laugh. So head on out to the last two weekends of The Great Talent Challenge, support local theatre, and prepare to laugh.
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