No, they aren’t mimes. Nor are these UC Irvine undergrads clowns who have any intention of terrorizing New York City or Tokyo.
‘Clownzilla: A Love Story’ is presented by the California Commedia Troupe and combines influences from Charlie Chaplin, clowning, improvisational techniques and miming. The show chronicles the growth of two insecure clowns from their infancy to their struggles to fit in with the ‘in crowd’ at their clown high school.
The result is a consistently funny one-hour show unlike anything you’ve seen before.
‘When you are clowning, your inner child comes out,’ said fourth-year drama major Adrienne S. Mueller, who plays the clown Professor McPrissykins. Like the rest of the cast, Mueller took a ‘Clowning and Masks’ class taught by Eli Simon, who directed ‘Clownzilla’ and wrote the book ‘Masking Unmasked.’
The cast of ‘Clownzilla’ includes Adrian Alita as Super Baby Big Boy, Betsy Mugavero as Hope, R.J. Romero as Mister Pants and Dane M. Svenningsen as Spot.
In ‘Clownzilla,’ the red nose (copies of which were sold after the show) functions as the clowns’ mask and helps them to stop thinking about what might or might not be funny.
‘I think the thing that really makes this work, both as a performance technique that’s very engaging to a paying audience and a training technique that’s enlightening to a student, is that it forces you, as an actor, to make the audience your scene partner,’ said Romero, a self-described ‘five-and-a-half-year drama major.’
The Thursday, Jan. 11 audience was primarily composed of drama students, many of whom knew performers in the troupe and proved to be quite boisterous. Hopefully the clowns will still be more than capable of playing off the audience’s energy when people they don’t know are in the seats.
As the show begins, the lights dim and the five-member troupe of clowns slowly climbs over audience members to get to the stage, driving home the point that the audience is an integral part of the performance.
We rise for an abstract approach to the National Anthem