May 12 2010 12:00 AM

Riverwalk hits home run with a night of sketches



As the seasons change, people all over the community are trying on shorts to see if they fit. Riverwalk Theater put on “Size 8 Shorts” this week and, oh my, do they fit.

There are 30 words in just the titles alone of the eight pieces that make up this delightful confection of laughs and snorts, beginning with “Wedding Duet,” a two-person compendium of all the roller coaster emotions that confront a bride and groom as they try to imagine what married life might actually look like. Emily Aslakson and Phil Himebaugh, married in real life, portray this hapless couple for whom everything comes unglued at the moment that the groom is about to carry the bride through the door of their honeymoon hotel room. This is clearly the best of the eight productions and would have been even better if it had been saved for last.

Nevertheless, the ensemble of 10 actors, half of whom also directed these plays, put out a high level of energy in all of the eight productions.

“Emotional Baggage” asks the audience to imagine baggage relegated to the lost-and-found as people — each one representing a brand-name of baggage — while “The Flying Wolimskies Return” portrays aging high-wire artists who are questionably still capable of performing without a net.

“Size 8 Shorts” is something of a family affair. Aslakson and Himebaugh are joined on stage at times by LeeAnn Dethlefsen, Himebaugh’s mother, and at other times by Rick Dethlefsen, his stepfather. Lee Helder is joined by husband Bill Helder, and Tom Ferris by his wife, Carol.

Carol Ferris’ does a particularly funny turn as the “who, me?” suspect in her husband’s disappearance in “Chocolate.” Ben Holzhausen shows considerable versatility as the luggage piece “dick” and as Joe, a wildly exaggerative Sherlock Holmes-type character in “There Shall Be No Bottom” (subtitled “A Bad Play for Worse Actors”). Joe Dickson does double duty as Rollo in the baggage
play and as Mr. Puce in “The Tarantino Variation, "a play about
reluctant Mafia hit men.

Kudos to Riverwalk Theater for saving some of the best comedy theater of the year for the next-to-last show of the season.

’Size 8 Shorts’

Riverwalk Theatre 8 p.m. Friday, May14 and Saturday, May 15; 2 p.m.

Sunday, May 16 228 Museum Drive, Lansing $12 (517) 482-5700