`Bradys’ Go Over Big with Park West Bunch

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
March 30, 1994

Here’s the story/of a TV sitcom/that just wouldn’t ever really go away/Though folks can see reruns on Channel 50/They still pay big bucks to see the live play.

Since Chicago sisters Jill and Faith Soloway staged their first line-for-line recreation of a “Brady Bunch” episode three years ago at the Annoyance Theatre, their production of “The Real Live Brady Bunch” has taken on a life of its own.  Running through Monday, the play returned to Chicago Tuesday night to a full house at the Park West.

Was it art?  No.  Was it funny?  Sometimes.  Was it true to the TV series? Definitely.  Was it good?  Yes, but not great.

This particular staging recreated a 1971 “Brady Bunch” episode titled “Getting Davy Jones,” where eldest daughter Marcia prematurely promises to deliver heartthrob Jones to her junior high school prom.

As Marcia, Antoinette Spolar is superb.  Besides duplicating her TV doppelganger Maureen McCormick’s narcissitic mannerisms, Spolar had McCormick’s speech pattern down pat.  The audience went into hysterics everytime she whined “skew-ell” (school).

A scene stealer, Carrie B. Aizley’s performance matched Spolar’s.  As Marcia’s myopic younger sister Jan, Aizley not only recreated Jan’s breathless delivery, but also the awkward, loping walk of your average teenager.

Also funny was Jim Tosney’s Greg Brady. With his bushy eyebrows and tough guy swagger, he did a groovy imitation of the studliest Brady boy. The other cast members didn’t fare as well.  As mom and dad Brady, Kate Flannery and Barry Saltzman neither looked nor sounded like the TV stars they were satirizing.  And the actors portraying the pubescent Brady siblings didn’t have much time to connect with the audience.

The fans loved it all, repeating lines with the actors and enthusiastically welcoming Jones during his appearance.  Now 48, the former Monkee played his part with amicable charm.  Though his modern clothes belied the ’70s setting, his voice rang true to the era when he sang “Girl” and “Daydream Believer.”

The one-hour play was preceded by “The Real Live Game Show,” which at one hour was about 30 minutes too long.  Audience members selected to compete had to act, sing and emote.  After rendering a hilarious rendition of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” Howard the plumber won the competition.

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