"All About Walken" (AAW) is to theatre what the Campbell's soup can is to art. Show creator Patrick O'Sullivan is finding his proverbial 15 minutes by making much ado about one of Hollywood's most beloved acting oddities, Christopher Walken.
A dual citizen of his native Ireland, as well as of his adopted American homeland, O'Sullivan is still cheerfully unaffected by his show's growing popularity. (Such media mainstays as CBS Radio, Bloomberg, and Fox News have thus far lauded AAW). In fact, earlier, on the very day that I was to attend the production, I was standing in line at the Cherokee postal station, a branch of the US Postal Service in Hollywood, when I received a phone call from one of the friends with whom I was to attend that evening's production.
After I'd rung off and stepped out of line to retrieve a package at the call window, I heard a man's voice boom out, "Are you by chance going to `All About Walken' tonight?" When I spun around to determine who the eavesdropper to my mobile phone conversation was, I was treated to a wave and a beaming smile from, coincidentally enough, none other than Mr. O'Sullivan himself, who happily went on to inform me, and our numerous companions in the queue, that he was the show's creator, and he'd be happy to talk to me a bit about his "baby" after we each concluded our respective postal transactions.
With a rising hit on his hands, it's not difficult to comprehend why this blonde-haired Jim Carey look-alike is waxing enthusiastic with such gleeful "Golly Gee" gusto about his creation to anyone who will listen. His passion for the project is infectious, and I'd venture to say that the only way his show wouldn't make it to Broadway, and/or the big screen would either be his untimely demise, or a cease-and-desist order from Mr. Walken himself. (Although the former would be a sad loss, the latter would truly be a crime!)
The cast is comprised of the show's creator, as well as an ensemble of 8 other very talented and funny actor/comedians, both male and female. Auditions were posted on Craigslist, and considering how fantastic this cast is, I can only imagine how fun the auditions must have been to peer in on.
I would be hard-pressed to name my favorite Walken, because each cast member effectively presented a different facet of the multi-dement-ional actor, but I definitely have a few favorite bits. My hands-down winner for the best "Out Of Left Field" performance goes to Amy Kelly for imitating actress Jennifer Tilly auditioning for a role in the show as a, yep, you guessed it- Walken impersonator! I have long harbored deeply burning curiosity as to how and why the blowsy Ms. Tilly ever got as far as she did in film, but after witnessing Ms. Kelly's sketch, I now have my answer. Inspiration comes in many forms, indeed.
Another high- (or low- depending upon your threshold for kitsch) point for me was with Kenzo Lee as Woody Allen's loveable schlemiel, to Lilly Holleman's Duane (Annie Hall's disassociative and suicidal younger brother). The diminutive Holleman is possessed of a singular knack for nailing the quintessential psychotic gaze for which Mr. Walken is so widely recognized. I wonder if ever, in his wildest moments, the fun-to-imitate actor dreamed he would make such prime drag king material?
An unabashed audience favorite was the perfectly re-enacted, now classic "More Cowbell" skit from Saturday Night Live. I wouldn't have believed that the original could have been improved upon, but trust me when I say that the AAW version totally rocked!
Bad hair was a running sight gag throughout the production, and I've a sneaking suspicion that the local thrift stores are most likely pondering who to thank for what must surely have been a welcome run on sales of their most shopworn pre-owned wigs. I won't go into the groaners derived from Mr. Walken's name that were bandied about, and I can't even begin to describe the guilty pleasure the audience derived from the multiple sly references to a certain unsavory erotic practice involving the remains of the dearly departed.
A little goes a long way in "All About Walken", but what a way to go! Much as Seinfeld brilliantly managed to make an undeniably fascinating show "about nothing", O'Sullivan's opus does wonders with a dab of Walken. I understand he now has his sights set on launching a similar vehicle for all things Jack (Nicholson, that is). Personally, I am waiting with baited breath for "All About Tilly"…