Presented and Created by Recent Cutbacks
Directed by Kristin McCarthy Parker
Off Off Broadway, New Comedy
Extended through 8.30.15
The People’s Improv Theater, 123 East 24th Street
by Sarah Weber on 7.15.15
Nick Abeel and Kyle Schaefer in Hold On To Your Butts.
BOTTOM LINE: Jurassic Park packed into 60 hilarious minutes.
When I first read the title Hold On To Your Butts, I thought it was simply a reference to Samuel L. Jackson’s famous line from Jurassic Park. It wasn’t until after the show I realized it is also a legitimate public service announcement—you will laugh your butt off, so hold on! This sliver of nerdy paradise makes references to every memetic moment you remembered and forgot from that '90s classic we all love. Are Comic Con’s overlords reading this? Because I cannot imagine a single nerd who would not fall in love with this backside-splitting parody.
The quick witted Nick Abeel and Kyle Schaefer portray every single character and dinosaur of the film while the indispensably funny Kelsey Didion provides every sound effect from opening credits onward. The plot is the original Jurassic Park concentrated into one hour. For those of you who have been living under a rock since 1993, the sequence of events are as follows: a paleontologist discovers a fossilized mosquito with preserved dinosaur blood; a team of scientists use this blood to clone dinosaurs; some very wealthy men have the brilliant idea to open a park of these cloned dinosaurs; the brilliant idea goes horribly wrong.
The show doesn’t quote the film word for word. Of course, they preserve the classics (“Dodgson, Dodgson, we’ve got Dodgson here!”), but the rest either exaggerates already over-the-top scenes or makes self-aware remarks on how this is, after all, a staged performance. Some of my favorite moments are Kyle Shaefer’s interpretations of Dr. Malcom’s eccentric quirks and excessive use of Um’s and Ah’s. Didion’s foley sound effects are characters in their own right that both bring to life and poke fun at Jurassic Park. The scene where the character John Hammond stops the action entirely just to make a sandwich is made that much funnier by Didion’s perfect timing. It’s a treat to watch her create these effects on stage.
Abeel, Didion, and Shaefer’s lightning speed performances are only further enhanced by Kristin McCarthy Parker’s intuitive direction and Ashlee Springer’s ingenious design. Parker knows exactly how to make maximum use of the space to keep the audience on our toes even when we know what’s next. And Springer’s use of shoe-string props ties all of the show’s thematic elements together in ways you can only expect from a smart designer. Who’d have thought traffic cones could make excellent dinosaur tails?!
Hold On To Your Butts originally premiered at Under St. Marks in 2014 and has since enjoyed two sold-out runs at The PIT. So far this is the first show created by this group under the company name Recent Cutbacks. If there’s more where Hold On To Your Butts came from, I can’t wait to see what’s next. While we wait, go see Hold On To Your Butts while there’s still time—your ‘90s nostalgia depends on it!
(Hold On To Your Butts plays at The PIT, 123 East 24th Street through August 30, 2015. Remaining performances are 8/9 at 9:30, 8/29 at 7, and 8/30 at 7. Tickets are $20 and are available at thepit-nyc.com or by calling 212-563-7488.)