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at GTC Burbank

It is a rare kind of comedy that can remain fresh with passing generations—which is the reason the bulk of the vaudeville acts and early TV comedies are all but forgotten. Frank Semerano's wacky comedy is reminiscent of the 1950s Your Show of Shows. And while the premise is intriguing and there might be enough good humor to fill one scene, stale jokes and poorly orchestrated physical bits dominate this 90-minute scene. Curtis Krick's uneven direction and a mixed bag of acting skills drain much of what little creative dialogue and scenarios exist.

The "red menace" provides the backdrop to this tale, set in 1957 in a remote, rundown observatory on the night the Soviet Union's Sputnik satellite is first orbiting Earth. The large, dimwitted Myles (Fleet Cooper) runs the observatory with his skinny, nerdy assistant, Blaine (Christopher B. Smith). Things get wild when three apparent Soviet spies—Mrs. Voskovec (Deidre Moore), Rimsky (Adrian Colon), and Tatianna (Patricia Rigney)—enter and hold Myles and Blaine captive. The other character is Myles' soon-to-be ex-wife, Hali (Victoria Watson), who has secrets of her own.

The script is overwhelmed with tired humor, in particular a string of metaphors regarding Myles' romantic performance issues. Another running gag is Blaine's attempts to perform various tasks, only to be injured by falls, electricity, or wild animals. Cooper and Smith are active and earnest. And Watson pegs the femme fatale persona. But none of the cast is working with strong material. Krick's direction suffers from poor pacing. There are several dead moments, including a scene in which Blaine and Myles keep backing into each other that is so long it feels as if they are covering for someone who missed an entrance. The production's strongest elements are Max Glen's whimsical, sci-fi B-movie set, and the goofy sound effects, designed by Krick and Scott Stinnett.

Kaputnik! succeeds in paying homage to the corny comedies of the 1950s—and that's the problem.

Presented by Lost Hollywood Players Company at GTC Burbank, 1111-B W. Olive Ave., Burbank. Thu.-Sat. 8 p.m. Nov. 16-Dec. 16. (818) 238-9998.

Reviewed by Jeff Favre

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