- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 6, 2002

''Laughter at Ten O'Clock: Memories of the Carol Burnett Show" is so silly it's funny.
In the tradition of "The Carol Burnett Show," the American Century Theater production provides humorous sketches without the satire of "Saturday Night Live." The play, which uses original scripts of many of the show's best-known TV skits, runs through July 20 at Theater on the Run in Arlington.
The audience is immediately invited to take part in the presentation. Lou Swerda, who plays a technician on the set of "The Carol Burnett Show," reminds audience members that they need to make lots of noise. After all, this is supposed to be a live taping on a TV set.
The first skit of the performance is "The Operation," in which Carol Burnett (Nancy Dolliver), who is portraying a nurse, tells Harvey Korman (Bill Karukas), who is portraying a doctor, that she wants a divorce because she never sees him any more. But the timing of Carol's request causes problems because Harvey is trying to operate on his patient (Bruce Alan Rauscher). The skit is full of antics, such as Carol calling Vicki Lawrence (Mary McGowan), the other nurse, Silicone Sally because of her large chest.
The play continually takes its audience back to the 1970s not only through Miss Burnett's comedy, but also through the guest stars of the show, such as Steve Lawrence (Scott Kenison) and Eydie Gorme (Karen Hayes). Their gestures and singing style can't help but make one laugh.
One of the funniest skits is "The Howl and the Pussycat," in which Carol's fiance, who is played by Tim (Mr. Rauscher), thinks he is a cat after a reaction to an allergy shot. He spits up hairballs, licks his hands, drinks water out of a cup while on all fours and knocks over the fish bowl. Understandably, this frightens Carol's dad, who is played by Harvey. After meeting the prospective husband, he says to her, "There is something to be said for being an old maid."
Further, Miss Dolliver brings Carol's nuisances to life in this skit. She has mastered her famous facial expressions and body movements. If one didn't already know that someone was acting the role of Miss Burnett, one might be fooled into believing it was really her.
As part of the second half, Sonny Bono (Mr. Rauscher) and Cher (Kathryn Fuller) take the stage for an outstanding performance of "I've Got You Babe." In classic style, the pair argue back and forth. Miss Fuller also projects Cher's low, sultry voice.
Engelbert Humperdinck (George Chapin) joins the lineup of special guests. The camera operator (Kate Kirby) becomes clearly mesmerized by him as he kisses various audience members.
Most of the skits are funny, but the play starts to get a little long about halfway through the second act. The performance could have been improved by shortening the show by two skits. "As the Stomach Turns," one of the weaker skits, would not have been missed.
Also, while one loves good comedy such as "The Carol Burnett Show," there is nothing like the original. One also hopes that modern American theater will continue to create new material and not be dependent on what already has been successful.

WHAT: "Laughter at 10 O'Clock: Memories of the Carol Burnett Show."
WHERE: Theater on the Run, 3700 S. Four Mile Run, Arlington
WHEN: 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, through July 20, and 2:30 p.m. today and July 13, July 14 and July 20
TICKETS: $17 to $24
PHONE: 703/553-8782

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