Tony Braithwaite and Jennifer Childs star in LET'S PRETEND WE'RE FAMOUS at Act II Playhouse in Ambler, PA. (Photo credit: Mark Garvin)

LET’S PRETEND WE’RE FAMOUS—Fame Through the Years, Cabaret-Style at Act II

Act II Playhouse, in the heart of Ambler, starts off 2014 with a light-hearted look at fame. Written—and performed—by Tony Braithwaite and Jennifer Childs, this post-holiday pastiche runs from January 7th to the 26th.

Braithwaite, Act II’s Artistic Director, has an extensive background in stand-up comedy, and Childs has written numerous original comedic gems for her company, 1812 Productions. The two have been friends for over a decade, and have collaborated on a number of cabaret style pieces, including one called LET’S PRETEND WE’RE MARRIED. This history adds greatly to their onstage chemistry. Individually, they are highly acclaimed actors in both comedies and dramas. Together they are hilarious, supporting each other perfectly.

LET’S PRETEND WE’RE FAMOUS was originally staged at 1812 a couple of seasons back as part of the Independence Foundation’s New Works Initiative. But Braithwaite and Childs have created a lot of new material for the engagement at Act II—with more improvisational moments throughout. One fun bit is when they get a volunteer from the audience and take them on the complete “fame” journey from overnight stardom to scandals and a comeback attempt, fulfilling Andy Warhol’s prediction that everyone will get 15 minutes in the spotlight.

Tony Braithwaite and Jennifer Childs star in LET'S PRETEND WE'RE FAMOUS at Act II Playhouse in Ambler, PA. (Photo credit: Mark Garvin)

Tony Braithwaite and Jennifer Childs star in LET’S PRETEND WE’RE FAMOUS at Act II Playhouse in Ambler, PA. (Photo credit: Mark Garvin)

The pair saves some of their best bits for those that are famous for being famous—like the Kardashians. And those who think they’re more famous than they are get satirized as well. It’s great fun—and they keep it fresh and topical as well. Wednesday’s almost full house was thoroughly enjoying themselves.

In between the comedic bits, Braithwaite and Childs offer song medleys. Of course the title song from the 70s film “Fame” is prominently featured. The pair is given terrific accompaniment by pianist Owen Robbins, who even has his own little bit of schtick. Then, as you’re laughing away, Childs strikes a poignant note with a beautiful version of Sondheim’s The Glamorous Life from A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, which is about a daughter proud of her famous actress mother, but missing her as she travels around with each production. It is a wonderful balance to the lightness of the rest of the production, and Childs sings it with such heart.

A lovely bit of warmth can be found at Act II that will chase away the winter chills. So make the drive to Ambler and catch LET’S PRETEND WE’RE FAMOUS.

Written & Performed by Tony Braithwaite and Jennifer Childs
January 7—26, 2014
Act II Playhouse
56 E. Butler Avenue
Ambler, PA 19002

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Ellen Wilson Dilks

Ellen Wilson Dilks

EA reviewer with STAGE for several seasons now, Ellen recently took on the role of Project Coordinator for the site, handling the scheduling of our many writers and serving as their liaison with our member theatre companies. She has been active in the Philly theatre community for over three decades as an actress, dialect coach, dramaturg and director. Past directorial credits include PERMANENT COLLECTION, OUR TOWN and ALMOST, MAINE for the Players Club of Swarthmore, CHILDE BYRON at Allens Lane, STRING OF PEARLS at Widener University and THE LARAMIE PROJECT at Celebration Theatre. In addition, Ellen served as Assistant Director for VANITIES, RUN FOR YOUR WIFE and DEATHTRAP at Hedgerow Theatre. As a performer, she has appeared in Shakespeare (HAMLET and KING LEAR), Mamet (THE CRYPTOGRAM), Wilde (THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST) and Wilder (OUR TOWN), to name a few. Ellen was a Barrymore Nominator for three seasons and served as Assistant Director for two productions of the Adult Theatre School Ensemble at People's Light & Theatre Company.

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