Arts Listings

The Theater: ‘Jukebox Tales’ at La Val’s

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Friday March 07, 2008

Jukebox Tales: The Case of the Creamy Foam puts the team of Prince Gomovilas and Brandon Patten back together, alternating story and song on a messy set in the basement of La Val's Pizza, a bedroom strewn with the domestic wreckage of young bachelorhood. Sometimes Brandon, after capping off a tune, slips under the sheets and asks Prince for a bedtime story—a funny request before a roomful of spectators. 

This time the "stage” is taped off as a crime scene, with a lonely pint of stout sitting forlorn and foamy, like the subtitle. The hook, in fact, is slight, more an unhook. It’s not so much a plotless detective story (an oxymoron if there ever was one) as another, running pretext to engage the audience in interactivity, a contest to see if they’re paying attention. 

And the audience, many hovering over pizza on paper plates, wiping away their own beery foam from their lips, is rapt. In an age of distraction and oversaturated entertainment, Brandon and Prince have struck on an updated version of a few old chestnuts out of vaudeville. Next they should try their act on the apron of a movie theater stage, another dying institution. This time the live acts might save moving pictures, not the other way around as of yore. 

For those familiar with the original edition, Jukebox Tales: The Case of the Creamy Foam is an extention of what they already know and love. With the help of audience members choosing titles, often at random (though there are requests for recent old favorites), the dynamic duo maintain their usual division of labor: Prince tells his funny, acid tales, sometimes off the page, exhorting the audience’s sympathy with furrowed brow and open-handed gestures, while Brandon alternates with clever, perceptive ditties, accompanying himself on guitar.  

The stories run a familiar gamut, between frenzied episodes of Asian customs (gambling, Buddhist folk beliefs, social flaunting and inter-generational woes) distended by the uncouth sprawl of American consumerism—and Prince’s accounts of his career forays into the wilds of entertainment and The Media. Brandon’s songs are upbeat, tinged with satire, and occasionally pretty salty. One X-rated encore was requested by a woman who said she’d brought her parents to hear it—a new kind of family entertainment? 

After a string of stories like one about Prince’s refusal “to take part in the cult” of Tiger Balm, or the tempest in a styrofoam cup over what he wrote for the AOL Queer Site about High School Musical II, intercut with songs like “Ketchup & Mayo” (while Prince makes the eponymous sandwich—though the song’s not about that kind of eating) and “Ride The Green Tortoise/You’ll Have a Good Time” (“a campy counterculture horror story with a little gay bashing South of the Border”), a reenactment of a scene from The Goonies (with selected audience participation) and a movie trivia game, “the Birthday Girl on a roll” shouts “J’Accuse!” and names the murderer to wrap up Jukebox Tales: The Case of the Creamy Foam after winning two other prizes and playing a Goony ... proving Lana Turner was no anomaly—in La Val’s Subterranean, every spectator’s ripe for her/his 15 seconds of fame, eulogized on the spot by Prince and Brandon. 



Impact Theatre 

La Val's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid Ave. 

Thurs.-Sat. 8 p.m. 

Through March 22 

Tickets $10-$15