Ernie (John Bolton), a wanna be rocker enters to the front of the stage with the curtain behind him and talks to the audience…that is, the audience of an alcoholic type meeting group with Nicotine being the addiction. A few words and into song about his wife, Pam (Farah Alvin) being the last smoker in America.
The curtain opens to reveal a suburban kitchen, Pam in a robe and a high-tech device on the wall called ASPHYXIA an acronym for Anti-Smoking Penalty Help You Xpect In America. It spouts that the penalties for smoking are: heavy fines and social ostracism as well as telling us that new and stricter laws of jail time will soon come. Pam takes out a cigarette from a cookie jar and is tempted to smoke it singing, “How Can I Quit Now”.
Ex-smoker Ernie is on nicotine gum and without it tends to go into a bit of anger. A plastic blow up clown is used to punch…for now. Their teenage son, Jimmy (Jake Boyd), enters after dad goes out asking mom if he could have a cookie. We get that Jimmy’s addiction is sugar and video games. He takes pills for being hyper, tending to forget to take them.
Next we meet Phyllis (Natalie Venetia Belcon), their token African-American neighbor who always seems to be in a good mood. She is being appointed as the district’s no smoking captain. We first get to hear Belcon’s vocal abilities as she sings, “Let The Lord Be Your Addiction”.
Now, let me pause and say that the dialogue and lyrics are humorous . During this number the back wall cabinets open with Ernie and Jimmy dressed as the Osmond Brothers. This wall will be used for stints such as this.
We then get Jimmy behaving “Black” rapping a song called, “Gangsta” and wanting to take on that identity. The audience is involved as well as Ernie rapping with him. Soon, Pam joins in and then enters Phyllis to complete it.
Ernie will sing “Straight White Man” giving Bolton the opportunity to show off his vocal cords and movement. Let’s not forget Alvin, who will get her turn a few times, let alone Belcon belting out a few.
Back to the script…Pam, who does take some puffs, has to leave for fear that she will get caught. What this whole thing turns out to be is a political statement on privacy at home. What is next?
So, what we have here is a 90-minute show (no intermission) with some dialogue but mostly songs of which the book and lyrics are written by Bill Russell, music by Peter Melnick. On the whole, I found the show to be entertaining and funny. Talented performers. Story was a bit choppy. Too many “things thrown in” for humor or whatever. Audience involvement was awkward.
The Last Smoker In America is playing at the Westside Theatre….upstairs. Not for the handicapped. Funny thing was that I noticed that the first seat in front of me had a wheel chair notice on the side. Why?