The Lamb Chops (Jan Caruana, Darryl Dinn, Stephanie Herrera, Greg Komorowski, Jennifer Budnick, Tim Walker and Jamie Lamb) perform as part of Jamboree 2002, Friday, August 16, 7 pm, with Drunk Baby Collective and Mosshammer & Morency. See comedy listings, page 64, for complete schedule. $15. 416-435-4795. Rating: NNNN
The Lamb Chops aren't just tender. They're sizzling, too. The all-musical improv troupe has only been around since April, but there's nothing undercooked about their talent.
Anticipating their gig tomorrow (Friday, August 17) at the first-ever Jamboree international improv fest, I checked out their act at a one-off last Saturday at the Cameron House.
By its nature, improv is spontaneous and in-the-moment.
The Lamb Chops -- the name is inspired by musical director Jamie Lamb, who trained many of them -- create a full-length musical on the spot, the setting and scenario supplied by the audience.
The suggestions "Australia" and "Sydney Opera House" resulted, seconds after they were shouted, in Sydney Opera House: The Musical, a clever, well-structured piece that embraced all the silly conventions we love and hate about musical theatre.
The rousing opening number introduced us to the characters, who ranged from Darryl Dinn's evil opera house owner to Jan Caruana's prima donna and Stephanie Herrera's costume girl who wants to get on the stage.
Tim Walker surprised everyone by playing croc hunter Steve Irwin, a gamble that let him chew up the scenery throughout the show.
The troupe has absorbed the musical comedy vernacular, the plots and subplots hatching with hilarious inevitability, however silly. Herrera cleverly telegraphed an identity mystery by showing her locket without a key, and in a single scene Greg Komorowski and Jennifer Budnick, neither of whom had much to do in the early part of the show, came up with an idea that provided a brilliant visual climax.
Vocally, Herrera and Budnick have the best pipes, but the others are passable. Dinn's quick on his feet -- he also seems to be having the most fun -- while Caruana and Budnick generate lots of audience sympathy.
Credit should go to keyboardist Lamb, who's responsible for changing the show's moods and underscoring significant moments in scenes.
At a time when improv is hotter than ever and anything can and frequently does become a musical, a troupe like the Lamb Chops has found itself a nice little niche. email@example.com
JAMBOREE 2002: toronto improv festival an international improv comedy festival at the Tranzac Club (292 Brunswick), Thursday-Sunday (August 15-18), at various times. $10-$15, all-show pass $100. 416-435-4795.