Act II Playhouse presents Tomfoolery, a revue of the witty, wicked and thoroughly twisted world of famed satirical songwriter Tom Lehrer, on stage in Ambler from Feb. 28-April 2, 2017.
Tomfoolery stars Artistic Director Tony Braithwaite, Jamison Foreman, Tracie Higgins (Electile Dysfunction, Forbidden Broadway, Lend Me a Tenor), and Patrick Romano (Broadway on Butler).
“I love sharp lyrics and good rhymes, and Tom Lehrer is a master at that,” Braithwaite said. “He’s sort of the subversive Cole Porter.” Even if you don’t know Lehrer or the songs, you will enjoy the show, Braithwaite added. “Tom satirizes everything we hold dear.”
Due to popular demand, a fifth week of performances has already been added to the calendar. A full schedule of performances is available online here. (Opening night for press is Friday, March 3 at 8 p.m.)
Tomfoolery is based on The Tom Lehrer Songbook and was adapted by Cameron Mackintosh and Robin Ray. “Every song is good, there isn’t a wasted word in the lyrics, and they are hysterical,” Braithwaite said.
Songwriter Tom Lehrer is a Harvard-educated math professor who entertained and delighted millions of fans during the 1950s and 1960s with his witty, satirical songs. His albums sold millions, despite being initially self-produced. Lehrer also contributed songs to the acclaimed Children’s Television Workshop show, Electric Company.
At the height of his success in the early 1970s, Lehrer abruptly retired from performing, choosing to forgo fame and concentrate on teaching. He famously quipped that he quit because, “Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.” Lehrer will turn 89 years old this year.
Tomfoolery premiered in London in 1981. In the introduction to the songbook published at the time, Lehrer wrote that fans are constantly suggesting he write songs on new topics, such as “the gradual destruction of the environment, our recent presidents, etc., so that I have often felt like a resident of Pompeii who has been asked for some humorous comments on lava.”
Nothing is sacred in Tomfoolery. It features such Lehrer classics as “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park,” “The Vatican Rag,” “The Masochism Tango,” and an unforgettable Gilbert and Sullivan-esque recitation of the table of elements.
Tickets for Tomfoolery are $29-$41. Discounts are available for subscribers, students, group of 10 or more, and seniors 65 and older. Tickets are available online at http://www.act2.org, by calling the Act II box office at (215) 654-0200, or in person at 56 E. Butler Ave. in Ambler.
Production credits include Parris Bradley (Set Designer), James Leitner (Lighting Designer), Jillian Rose Keys (Costume Designer) John Stovicek (Sound Design), and Lauren Davenport (Properties).
Braithwaite, who directs the show in addition to starring in it, developed a love for Tom Lehrer’s songs when in shows for 1812 Productions in Philadelphia in the early 2000s.
“Since becoming Artistic Director here in Ambler, Tomfoolery has been one of the top five shows people have suggested to me that we should do,” Braithwaite said. “I’m thrilled to finally present it.”