Arts & Culture

REVIEW: Old Creamery banking on physical humor with 'Once a Ponzi Time'

Alexandra Olsen photo

Social butterfly Judith (Jackie McCall) has had enough of all the business calls and time away from her workaholic husband Harold (real-life husband Sean McCall) in “Once a Ponzi Time.” This financial farce is onstage through June 30 at the Old Creamery Theatre in Amana.
Alexandra Olsen photo Social butterfly Judith (Jackie McCall) has had enough of all the business calls and time away from her workaholic husband Harold (real-life husband Sean McCall) in “Once a Ponzi Time.” This financial farce is onstage through June 30 at the Old Creamery Theatre in Amana.

AMANA — Maiming plus mayhem plus money equals a fishy financial farce onstage at the Old Creamery Theatre through June 30.

“Once a Ponzi Time” is the story of Harold Vanderdoff, a wealth management adviser who is operating a sketchy pyramid scheme, investing friends’ and family’s fortunes in a recipe for disaster. At his side is his nerdy nephew, Louie (Keegan Christopher), and completely in the dark is one of his biggest investors, his social butterfly wife, Judith (McCall’s real-life wife, Jackie McCall).

When the finances fizzle, Harold and Louie have to figure out how to pay the various pipers who come with their hands out — and stave off a Securities and Exchange Commission inspector, Agent Slademengton (Marquetta Senters), sporting a name everyone butchers in increasingly hilarious ways.

Farce is a forte for this professional troupe, allowing the merry band of actors to strut their timing acumen and rubbery facial expressions. In this case, it’s more like timing telepathy, as Sean McCall and Senters, the region’s reigning royalty of raucousness, do a slow-motion head turn in the kind of synchronicity usually relegated to Olympic pairs skating.

The script isn’t comedy gold, but it makes for a dripping slice of summer silliness that had Thursday’s opening matinee audience laughing in nearly all the right places.

I, however, was the only one laughing at the best line, when Harold and Louie fear they may go to jail if they can’t get rich quick and replace the lost funds. Harold is trying to allay young Louie’s fears by offering to take the fall. Harold: “You won’t be an accessory.” Louie: “Like a purse?”

It’s a little hard to follow all the story threads that get tangled along the way, as the uncle-nephew duo try to weasel their way out of a seemingly impossible predicament. So just sit back and enjoy the ride, and try not to think too hard.

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Longtime Old Creamery patrons know Sean McCall is a master rubber band man, and that the action always kicks up a notch whenever Senters enters the fray. The added joy of this production is seeing Christopher, who majored in theater and minored in dance, become this loosey-goosey Louie, with flailing arms and adorkable reactions.

David Q. Combs is another surprise, playing double duty. He primarily plays Harold’s father, Gramps, a ventriloquist who won’t wear his hearing aids, and misunderstands everything. He then dons a wig to play an ultrawealthy businessman. Both roles give him free rein for sight gags that set up one of the show’s funniest moments, as the others dress him up and attempt to transport him out of the room, a la “Weekend at Bernie’s.”

The other delightful surprise is just how funny Clark Skaggs can be. He definitely gives Sean McCall a run for his money, compounding the interest as this fiduciary farce unfolds.

If You Go

• What: “Once a Ponzi Time”

• Where: Old Creamery Theatre, 39 38th Ave., Amana

• When: To June 30; 2 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday

• Tickets: $32.50 adults, $20 students, Old Creamery Ticket Office, (319) 622-6262 or Oldcreamery.com

l Comments: (319) 368-8508; diana.nollen@thegazette.com

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