The Thrilling Adventure Hour

Mar 16, 2010 by Lindsay Pullin

Thrilling, suspenseful and, and adventurous would be perfect adjectives for an entire hour of fast talking wise guys (and gals). 

I was so intrigued I had to see it for myself. “The Thrilling Adventure Hour,” is a play that’s been running for five years straight. This past Friday, I saw it for my first time at the “Largo at the Coronet.”

If you’ve not seen it yet, here’s what you’ve been missing:

Thrilling Adventure Hour

The show is written in the tone of an old time, 1940’s radio show, performed by actors you’ll recognize.  It’s basically unrehearsed, every actor/actress has a script, and is well dressed in hats and ties.  Then, three "non-serialized serials" are performed, and in between segments the play plays jingles for assorted products and messages from "sponsors" (one such "sponsor" is "Patriot Brand Cigarettes – Good for your Constitution").

If you’ve ever listened to the Green Hornet, or any other classic radio show, you’ll recognize the format; but instead of just hearing those approaching footsteps and disembodied voice, you actually get to see the actor bringing life to that particular character.

Thrilling Adventure Hour

From the customary seasoned response to the show, and the familiarity established with the actors, the audience clearly has a lot of repeat attendees. The style of writing offers a humor that’s sophisticated and swell, using the dialect from circa 1940’s. Previously, the show has been at Mbar, but Friday, March 5th , marked The Thrilling Adventure Hour’s first performance at Largo at the Coronet.

The switch to the larger theater means larger audiences, but the room only sits 280 people. Ben Acker, one of the play’s writers, says,

The Largo at the Coronet is a beautiful theater. It was built in 1947 – a time when radio plays were performed live before an audience. The space adds to our audience’s immersive experience. From a performance perspective, our actors have room to move. Our wee orchestra can finally stretch out. From the curtain opening on the first performance, it felt like everyone’s game had been raised.

I didn’t know what to expect when I drove down La Cienega and parked next to the theater.  I had purchased my tickets ahead of time, calling The Largo and leaving my credit card information on an answering machine.  Contact the Thrilling Adventure Hour for more information on possible discounted tickets). Thrilling Adventure Hour Tickets were $25, but there are discount tickets offered online (I arrived early, and was delighted to find that my advanced purchased tickets were valid and gained me admittance. Since I arrived so early, I decided to kill sometime over a glass of wine in the Little Room, which started to fill up slowly with gentlemen in suits, and ladies in fine dresses (many people I later recognized on stage), and around 8pm I entered the theater to find a seat, and settled down for the show.

The first people out on the stage were a trio of musicians (one was playing a banjo, another a guitar, a singer and some beat boxing) performing an artistically rendered version of MIA’s Paper Planes. Thrilling Adventure HourAfter that act, Acker and Blacker, the hosts of the show, entered to introduce themselves, the band (Andy Paley and The Andy Paley Orchestra), and the special effects artists (Joel Spence and Blake Walker, who were busy making all those classic doors slamming, and feet walking sounds) bringing the audience to an older era of entertainment. Acker and Blacker are parodied versions of the writers and co-creators of the show, Ben Acker and Ben Blacker ("Since we’re not performers ourselves, we got a classic comedy team to represent us and host the show" Acker says).

The fast talking lends itself to quick punch lines, keeping the audience on their toes to catch the juicy tidbits of pulp. Blacker explains,

Because there is no real action in the show (because of the radio conceit), words are all we have. We love fast-paced, dialogue-driven movies like His Girl Friday, Some Like it Hot, Double Indemnity (really, most Billy Wilder), Tootsie, and the like. Dialogue in those movies, and in our show, make the silences much more important. Marc Evan Jackson , one of the cast members, can get a laugh with a thirty-second pause because it feels like five minutes after that barrage of words." Speaking of Marc Evan Jackson, check and you’ll recognize such actors as Samm Levine and Kevin Pollak, also.

Every show is unique, with different segments, and independent short skits.  The show I attended featured Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars, and Jefferson Reid, Ace American!, One Minute History with Zachary Taylor, jingles in between, sound effects, and music from the band, and then some.   As I mentioned earlier, the fast pace will keep you on your toes, and the complete change of story line and character is great for a generation that has the attention span of a fruit fly.

Photos courtesy of The Thrilling Adventure Hour

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