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LA Theater Review

Clownzilla: A Holiday Extravaganza

With this, Clownzilla's second show at Rude Guerrilla, the U.C. Irvine - based troupe pulls humor from the various holidays found on any American calendar. In trying to present a roughly alphabetical list, the company has given itself a tall order to fill. All of the obvious holidays -- Easter, Halloween, Independence Day, Labor Day, Mother's Day, New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day -- are here, but the troupe stretches to fill in the gaps with Yo-Yo Day, Quick Day, Kinky Day, O.C. Day (for Orange County), Zilla Day, and others. X? X-Mas Day, of course, which gives the show's seven white-faced, red-nosed, black-garbed clowns a chance for fine funny business as well as a more contemplative look at this holy day.

The humor ranges from all-out slapstick and raunch to political commentary -- Presidents' Day opens the door to a series of George W. Bush malapropisms -- and the kind of sad-clown technique perfected by Emmett Kelly, all accompanied by Vincent Olivieri's sound effects and original music and a series of black-and-white supertitles that lend a silent-movie flavor to the proceedings.

Adrienne Mueller, Betsy Mugavero, R.J. Romero, Cambria Beilstein, Elizabeth Graciano, Frank Miyashiro, and Heraclio Pimentel Jr. wrote and created the work with director Eli Simon. Not all of the show's continuous stream of jokes hit the bull's-eye, but these clowns are physically agile, preserving the art form with stylish twists. The conceit of a family of sad clowns discovering joy in an A to Z Book of Holidays is inspired, and if the show offers any standout performers, it's the diminutive Graciano, whose endearing Baby is an adorable imp who adds grace notes to many of the evening's best moments.

Presented by the Rude Guerrilla Theater Company at the Empire Theater,

202 N. Broadway, Santa Ana.

Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2:30 p.m. Nov. 16- Dec. 15.

(714) 547-4688.

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