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Southern Florida by John Lariviere


Laffing Matterz
This is Not Your Mother's Dinner Theatre!

Also see John's review of Unreasonable Doubt

Laffing MatterzProducers Rita and Mark Wells provide a welcome and fresh reworking of today's dinner theatre with Laffing Matterz. Prior to being relocated to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Laffing Matterz was previously housed in the historic McCrory building in downtown Ft. Lauderdale for over three and a half years. Their new locale in the Broward Center's Abdo New River Room provides easy and familiar access, and a crisp and elegant setting. Airy, open and inviting, this is a far cry from the outdated, dark, and heavily draped feel of the sort of South Florida dinner theatres spoofed in the movie Soap Dish.

Laffing Matterz is a live, original, musical-comedy revue spoofing local and national current events and pop culture—including politics, sports, celebrities, modern relationships, and various social situations. A cross between "Saturday Night Live" and "Capitol Steps" with original songs instead of parodies, the show may be frequently updated to reflect the current topic in the news. The risqué nature of some of the comedy warrants a PG-13 rating, so it may not be suitable for children (regardless of how funny the adults find it).

A quick look at the crowd on the night attended revealed a broad spectrum of patrons: older couples out with friends, mixed with younger couples out for a romantic evening. The flexibility of seating allows for large groups if desired (there was a birthday party of 18 on the night attended). We were seated at a table for four with another couple on their last night in town. Finding pleasant company and conversation with new faces was truly an unexpected bonus to the evening, but you can be seated alone if you are looking for that intimate table for two. From arrival to the end of show is about three hours including full meal service, so plan accordingly. Your waiters will also be your performers, so you have the chance to get to know them a bit before the show.

From the opening song "What's Funny?" to the closing song "Get Out" the show covers a variety of comedic styles. Some are more situational, such as a number about a certain politician caught engaging in inappropriate behavior in a men's bathroom. Some is more physical, such as wiggling behinds in a hip-hop style number about the swine flu, or tap dancing in cowboy boots in a number about being gay. The songs dealing with local events garnered the strongest response, such as the true terror of driving on I95, and the alarming (and also true) outbreak of STDs among area senior citizens.

Standout performances are turned in by Angela Thomas, Louis Silver, Joey Zangardi and Kimberly Martins. Thomas is the strongest natural comedienne, unafraid to mug the audience or milk a comedic moment. Her tongue-twisting delivery of the song "The Mom" is pretty impressive. Joey Zangardi is the strongest dancer, and is able to add the most interest physically to any choreographed moments because of his technique. He is quite funny as the tap-dancing cowboy. Louis Silver is able to switch between dapper and nerdy rather neatly, and has a strong voice and mature presence. Kimberly Martins also has a strong voice and turns in a humorous performance in song about "owning" I95. She also has my favorite joke in the show. When calling in sick to work she is asked what is wrong. Her response is that she has "anal-glaucoma." When asked what that means she responds "Well, I just can't see my ass coming into work today." Sometimes silly and sometimes crass, Laffing Matterz is about forgetting your week of work and woes and just having a good time.

Laffing Matterz has successfully created an evening of fine dining and entertainment in their new location at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Laffing Matterz was voted "Best Dinner Theatre" by the Broward/Palm Beach New Times, "Best Dining with a Sense of Humor" by the Palm Beacher, "The Official Best Dinner Theatre of Florida" by The Official Best.com and has received a 5-star rating by Trip Advisor. Though their current production will end this June, they will be back again in November with plans to run through June of 2011.

This production of Laffing Matterz will be appearing through June 27, 2010, at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Performances are usually Thursday – Saturday at 7:30 PM, and Sundays at 4:30 PM. For tickets and/or information on Laffing Matterz you may go to www.laffingmatterz.com.

The Broward Center for the Performing Arts is located in the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District at 201 SW Fifth Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Presentations at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts are sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Support is also contributed by the Broward Performing Arts Foundation, Inc. The Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment Consortium is a cultural partnership between the Performing Arts Center Authority, Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale, Florida Grand Opera., Fort Lauderdale Historical Society and The Historic Stranahan House Museum. It is supported by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners as recommended by the Broward Cultural Council and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Visitors Bureau. For any of the offerings of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts you may contact them by phone at 954-462-0222 or online at www.browardcenter.org.

The Menu:

Ticket price includes the show, the house signature salad, warm sourdough bread with orange butter, and one of the following Entrées by Executive Chef John Eustace: Chilean Sea Bass, Dijon Tarragon Chicken, Crabmeat Stuffed Shrimp, Tenderloin of Beef, Vegetarian Ravioli, and Featured Entrée of the Day. -Price Range: $63 - $68 (Tax & Gratuity Included)

Diners may order A la Carte from an appealing Appetizer Menu featuring Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms, Caribbean Crab Cake, Shrimp Cocktail, Asian BBQ Beef Satay, Escargot, and a Soup of the Day. -Price Range $6 - $10

Their delicious Dessert Menu, also A la Carte, includes Mini Cream Puffs in Warm Chocolate Sauce, New York Style Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie, Hot Fudge Sundae, and Sorbet with Fresh Berries. – Price Range $6 -$8

Laffing Matterz features a full bar at reasonable prices, so you may select complementary alcoholic beverages for each course as you see fit.

The Cast:
Nicole Piro
Shawn Kilgore
Angela Thomas
Kimberly Xavier Martins
Joey Zangardi
Travis Lane McDiffett
Louis Silvers
Rusty Allison
Sarah Dell'Amico
Marissa Santiago
Danielle Worth

The Crew:
Director: Michael Leeds
Music Director: Phil Hinton
Stage Manager: Jamie Cooper


See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere



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