It was the last night of dress rehearsals Thursday, but director Randy Bullock told his cast to go off-script as much as possible. That’s because Pike County Little Theatre is once again drawing on the spontaneous comedy of Carol Burnett for its annual membership drive.
“A Tribute to The Carol Burnett Show 2: The Sequel” will open tonight at 7:30 at The Depot Theatre at 206 State St., McComb.
There will also be a show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and a 2:30 matinee Sunday. Tickets are $12 at the door and $10 on eventbrite.com. Seating is limited.
As PCLT’s membership drive, audience members are able to buy a season pass punch card that’s good for a season’s worth of PCLT performances. Normally $40, the membership pass is $30 only at the membership drive show this weekend. Due to the pandemic disrupting last year’s season, PCLT is still accepting season pass punches from last year for this season’s lineup of performances.
When Bullock opened the first “A Tribute to The Carol Burnett Show” a year ago, he had planned a one-night-only performance of some of the most famous sketches from Burnett’s variety show. That became a two-night run with one sellout night leading to another. The sequel tribute will feature all different sketches from last year’s.
“It really is a timeless kind of thing. It’s proven to still be popular,” Bullock said of “The Carol Burnett Show,” which originally ran on TV in the 1960s and ’70s. Despite that, Bullock has found that audiences of all ages still respond to “comedy you’re not embarrassed to let everybody watch,” he said.
The all-ages appeal held true for PCLT’s new production of Carol Burnett skits too. Younger members of the cast like Aly Lynch of Magnolia and Caroline Williams of Summit had heard of “The Carol Burnett Show” before but were properly introduced when they acted in last year’s membership drive. Among their multiple roles in the show, Lynch parodies “Alice in Wonderland” in a travel agency commercial, and Williams portrays Alice Portnoy, a Fireside Girl character originally played by Burnett.
Marley Myers of Brook-haven will offer questionable advice as Beatrice Beeswax, a role that she said “stretched her as person,” since she’s not naturally nosy.
Debbie Watkins is among the members of the cast who fondly recall the show from their childhood. She plays Marion, a Burnett character from the soap-sendup “As the Stomach Turns.”
“I love that it is still just as funny. We all need an opportunity to laugh right now,” Watkins said. “Anything we can do that’s light is necessary.”
Citing rehearsal crack-ups on stage that mirror the famous bloopers on the original TV show, Watkins promised performances with all the unpredictability and improvisation of an actual Carol Burnett skit.
“If this goes exactly all to script, I will be disappointed,” Bullock said. “I want it to be more true to the spirit of the show where anything can happen and probably does.”