THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF AMERICA (ABRIDGED) – Written by Adam Long, Austin Tichenor, and Reed Martin; Directed by Mellisa Taylor.  Produced by the Wheat Ridge Theatre Company (5455 West 38th Avenue, Wheat Ridge) through April 21st.  Tickets available at 720/244-5204 or 

Three insanely talented and quick-witted guys got together in college and decided to take on an examination of Shakespeare as seen through the eyes of hippy-dippy beach bums.  They reduced the entire Shakespearean folio (sonnets included) to a mock football game, a cooking show, and a backwards/forwards version of ROMEO AND JULIET.  Their frivolity left audiences bent over in pain laughing and began to make them serious money as they toured the United States and had a NINE YEAR run in London.  So what did they do then?  They formed the Reduced Shakespeare Company and kept going with Abridged versions of everything they could think of, like the History of Comedy, Hollywood, Great Books, a prequel to HAMLET, the Bible, Sports, and Western Civilization . . .  to name a few.  They have not run out of humor yet; Wheat Ridge Theatre bring their popular Reduced  History of America to life in their current production. 

Instead of three guys doing this one, WRTC has chosen two rapid-fire women and one quick on the draw man to explain American History from Columbus to Clooney.  No, wait, further back than that – from the cavemen crossing the Bering Strait to Lady Gaga.  From George Washington to George Bush and beyond.  From the Revolutionary War to STAR WARS.  In vaudeville like skits, often featuring song and dance, they move through American History like a knife through butter.  In-between all the frivolity and nonsense, you might actually learn something.  Not required, but an interesting side effect. 

One disadvantage of trying to write about a show like this is that it is so fast paced with so many loony tunes going on that if you try to take notes, you miss too much.  But let me just say that the scenes depicting American history range from corny vaudeville routines to a song about Amerigo Vespucci – from a Civil War slide show to a comparison of the startling statistics linking Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy.  A bit about WWI morphs into a number by the Andrews Sisters.  The era where radio was King is given life in a scene from Queen for a Day – who remembers that??  We visit with Detective Spade Diamond, Private Eye as he pursues Tony the Tiger, cereal killer.  One of the players ended up taking the blame for all the terrible things that have happened in the last twenty years – Monica! Covid! Watergate!  And on and on. 

The three whirlwinds giving us this history lesson while dressed in red, white, and blue costumes are Camilo Luera, Kayleigh Hudson, and Tara Spires who are all equally adept at this type of humor, moving through each scene with dedication and determination.  They are having fun, and they want you to have fun watching them.   There are tiny bits of audience participation but nothing to be fearful of if you’re sitting in the front row and nothing to set your teeth on edge. Director Mellisa Taylor has mined every bit of schtick out of each “lesson” to guarantee your good time. 

Wheat Ridge Theatre Company is getting its feet under it with each production finding its strength.  The comfort of having their own space for performances gives them the courage to try all sorts of shows and appeal to all sorts of audiences.  For instance, their next play is FUENTEOVEJUNA (literally the Sheep’s Well) about a group of peasants in 1476 who revolt against the tyrannical rule of the military commander sent to their village, written by Spanish playwright Lope de Vega. Then the one after that follows to two elderly gay men who hire a “manny” (not a nanny) to help take care of them in their old age. Follow through all the way to the holidays and we have SCROOGE IN ROUGE, a take-off on a British panto in which the whole cast of CHRISTMAS CAROL becomes sick leaving only three actors to take on the whole play themselves. See what I mean – they aren’t afraid to try anything. 

A WOW factor of 8.5!! 

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