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Rumble’s ‘Normal’ is fun and full of audience participation

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Last summer, I had my first experience of Rumble Productions at the Tricklock Performance Lab, and was very intrigued and highly entertained by the troupe’s unusual blend of a cappella musical improvisation and sketch comedy. It was an ingenious show and I was excited to catch them again this summer at the Sheraton Uptown.

The new piece, “Don’t Pretend You’re Normal,” is not quite as good as “Showdown” – the title of last year’s show – mostly because the performers were not quite as talented as the cast from last year. The form is different as well; the new Rumble show is “a dinner show” and so is accompanied by a “3½-course” meal. (You can see what they mean by “half-course” when you see the show.)

“Don’t Pretend You’re Normal” stops and starts frequently. After a brief prelude, the performers leave the stage while the servers bring out the first course and we eat our salads.

I confess I was disappointed to see the show stop only 3 to 4 minutes after it started, but the host of the show, Giovanna Garofalo, continued to entertain with the occasional joke while the cast members approached the tables to ask how we were enjoying ourselves. The show stopped with each course, although thankfully the length of performance time was considerably extended after the prelude.

Other than the incorporation of dinner, the form is mostly the same as the previous Rumble show I attended, although there was less improvisation and more reliance on rehearsed set pieces. There was a wacky post-apocalyptic send-up of O. Henry’s short story “The Gift of the Magi”; another skit had two performers come out with signs saying “A Ship” and “Nuther Ship.” The two “sailors” proceeded to flirt with each other in the most rhythmic and musical Morse code you are ever likely to hear. A third performer then entered with a sign saying “Titanic.” As he eavesdropped, he became more captivated by the rhythmic Morse code and soon started dancing, most comically; of course, he forgets to man the ship, and it hits an iceberg.

There is frequent audience participation, so if you attend you might get corralled into the show.

There was a musical chairs game with a prize for the winner, and best of all, three audience members had to provide the sounds for a cat, a baby, and a cow as actors impersonated each.

The audience voted on which audience member provided the best sounds, and the winner received a prize.

We saw Katy Perry and Taylor Swift battle it out competitively during a dual performance of the “Star Spangled Banner” and Holly Holm followed around by an obnoxious bunch of singing angels who refused to leave her alone. We also got to see Gov. Susana Martinez knocked to the ground in a gym when she was unable to support the barbell Holm tossed to her as she fled the obnoxious angels.

This is a cute show, entertaining and fun, and the next shows are on Sept. 9, Sept. 23 and Oct. 14.

“Don’t Pretend You’re Normal” plays at Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown, 2600 Louisiana NE. For information, visit to rumbleabq.com or call 443-992-0599.

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