Tight hot-pants and wild ‘fros – it’s CHiPs the Musical – Troubies at the Falcon

Tight hot-pants and wild ‘fros – it’s CHiPs the Musical – Troubies at the Falcon

CHiPs - Gang Green - Photo by Chelsea Sutton

It’s fun, it’s crazy, it’s impossibly cheesy and disco-retro – the hilarious new musical from those wacky clowns, the Troubies, has just hit the Falcon Theatre stage so you’d better lock and load.

CHiPS the Musical, presented by the Troubadour Theater Company, is a world premiere musical parody with original story and brand new, upbeat songs written by Rick Batalla and Henry Phillips, and directed by Matt Walker. This is a story of good, old-fashioned police work where men in overly tight uniforms dance, sing and thwart the villains.

From the press release: The Troubie’s new show takes audiences on a journey down the 405 Freeway, circa the mid-1970s, when highways were hopping and surface streets were for sissies – when you could get from Downtown to the Westside in 20 minutes, and not just in a Toyota. There you’ll find those super-flashy stewards of safety and suave-ness, Ponch and John, in CHiPS the Musical. Rest assured, Ponch and John are still wearing their well-starched uniforms, packin’ the heat, and looking fine enough to cause a fender-bender while battling criminals of the worst kind: female eco-terrorists cruisin’ on roller skates and sporting short shorts!  Our boys on bikes are back – and this time, they’re singing!

CHiPS the Musical is a real hoot. Batalla and Phillips have concocted a decent plot, interlaced with original songs and, of course, brilliant acting and comedy biz.

A bit of backstory on the TV show’s origins: According to the imdb – “CHiPS,” which stood for California Highway Patrol, was a long-running TV series during the late seventies/early eighties that followed the daily beat of characters Frank “Ponch” Poncherello (Erik Estrada) and Jon Baker (Larry Wilcox), two southern Cali motorcycle patrolmen.

Together the sexy pair cruised the highways and interstates in the Los Angeles area, stopping speeders and car thieves, helping stranded motorists, assisting paramedics at accident scenes and occasionally investigating crimes. They also became involved in many chases–this series could usually be counted on to provide at least one multi-vehicle interstate pile-up per episode.

Sexy hot pants and electric blonde afro wigs abound.  A giant TV screen dominates mid-stage centre, where brief scenes from the extremely dated TV show are occasionally screened. Plenty of funky music emanates from the live band of three musicians, playing their hearts out while incarcerated in a jail cell.

CHiPs - Photo by Chelsea Sutton

When Ponch (Rick Batalla) and John’s (Matt Walker) beloved Sarge Getrear (Mike Sulprizio) is whisked away to “Sensitivity Camp” to cure his sexism, Ponch immediately butts heads with the hot new female Sergeant Carmel (Michelle Anne Johnson), who shows up sporting a ferocious black “™fro and backed by a sexy duo of singers, aka The Carmelites (Kristin D”™Andrea and Jackie Seiden).

Pretty soon the boys have more serious matters on their hands; a vicious gang of rollerskating lesbo lawbreakers, known as Gang Green, are eco-terrorizing the Cali coastline. Led by a tough-talking, Northern Irish “synthetic” albino chick named KG (the always side-splittingly riotous Beth Kennedy – whose physical comedy talents are second to none) the all-girl-plus-one-guy gang threaten to wreak revenge on anyone they find polluting the ocean. It’s up to Ponch and John to save the recklessly polluting diner owner Jim (Joel McCrary) from certain demise. Will Ponch and John prevail?  Will John’s perfectly feathered blond wig “Farrah meets Dorothy Hamill” survive?

Highlights of the show’s tunes include, “Single Teenage Mama” and “Dump it and Die!” which is a fantastic song that was nicely modulated with the comedy. While the plotline is clearly topical, it was great that the writers studiously avoid jokey references to the current ecological tragedy occurring in the Gulf, save for one pointed comment.

As always the show features lots of scripted ad-libbing, as much of the dialogue is improvised during rehearsal to become the final script. But it was evident there was tons of genuine ad-libbing and even some ‘corpsing’ (which is when an actor starts laughing uncontrollable mid-performance).  Actually, the ad-libbing tipped over into self-indulgence, on several occasions, to the point where cast members were telling each other to stick to the script.  I swear the show ran a good fifteen minutes longer than it should have; towards the end of the show one of the actors even ad-libbed that he was “already home this time last night.”

Still, it was all funny stuff! Don’t miss this riotous show!

is located at 4252 Riverside Drive, in Burbank.
Box office and bookings – (818) 955 8101

Runs: until Sunday, July 25th, 2010 (4pm show)
PERFORMANCES: Wed.-Sat. at 8pm, Sundays at 4pm

$28.50 – $31.00 (Thurs)
$33.50 – $36.00 (Fri/Sat/Sun)
Students’ discount – $26.00

All production photos by Chelsea Sutton.

Review by Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.

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