New City, Tip of the Week by Nina Metz, March 20, 2003
On the heels of his wildly successful film/improv hybrid known as "The Neutrino Project," director Fuzzy Gerdes is back at it again, this time experimenting with an idea inspired by Woody Allen's "What's Up, Tiger Lily?". Nothing beats a B-movie when it comes to good old-fashioned stupid entertainment, so why not mute the sound and see what a group of improv performers can invent instead? That's exactly what Gerdes does, positioning his seven-member cast, mics in hand, on stools along the back wall of the Playground Theater, where they provide all the dialogue and sound effects--ad-libbed and often quite funny--for the movie on screen. It's loose and casual, and the vibe is very "Mystery Science Theater" without the robot puppets mouthing off in the front row. Each week Gerdes and crew tackle a different film; on opening night, they screened the action flick "Laser Mission" starring Brandon Lee and Ernest Borgnine. The diamond-heist plot morphed into a goofy adventure about a chef assigned to the most dangerous gig imaginable: A vegan Bar Mitzvah. Musicians Ben Taylor and Todd Leibov provide the all-important cheesy film score. Upcoming movie genres include Mexican horror, Western, vintage action with kung-fu flavor, seventies sex drama, sci-fi and a nineties one-hit-wonder sellout.
#1 on New City's "5 Shows to See Now"
Cinema 2.0, Playground Theater, 3341 N. Lincoln Ave. $8; 773-871-3793: Beginning Sunday is this 90-minute film/theater event inspired by the Woody Allen classic "What's Up Tiger Lily?" and the recent "Kung Pow" martial arts spoof. The weekly evening entertainment features the talents of seven improvisors as they "dub" in the voices and Foley effects for a relatively unfamiliar B-movie. The selection will change weekly as will the score, always by Ben Taylor's live band.
Director Fuzzy Gerdes sees it as Chicago irreverence in a new format. "The great advantage is that it's all live and unscripted and even more anarchic than Allen's calculated travesty. To keep it unpredictable the cast won't see the movie beforehand." That's why we can't announce it either. Closes May 4.