Hip Shot: Walken in His Shoes

Walken-photoRedrum – Fort Fringe

Remaining Performances:

Sunday, July 13 at 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday, July 15, at 8:15 p.m.
Thursday, July 17, at 10 p.m.
Saturday, July 19 at 12:30 p.m.

They Say: "Sit in on an all-male Christopher Walken Club meeting when a female wants to join. Watch as they compete in the first annual Walken In His Shoes pageant. Come see the big hair, big eyes and big laughs."

Chris' Take:
Is Christopher Walken a character actor or a movie star? He's more famous for his countless memorable supporting roles than for the films he's carried more or less on his own shoulders. And yet he's been a Bond villain. He's fought Batman. He auditioned to be Han Solo in Star Wars, a fact so bizarre you could rupture a blood vessel in your brain trying to imagine the film that might've resulted.

In the realm of celebrity impressions, though, the star of Suicide Kings is king. More people imitate his arrhythmic, staccato inflections than try to talk like DeNiro in Taxi Driver. More than Brando in On the Waterfront. More than Keanu or Sidney Poitier or Clint Eastwood. Everybody does Walken. Most of them are really doing Shatner, but what matters is that they think they're doing Walken.

Walken in His Shoes, an admirably featherweight, perfectly Fringe-sized comedy imported from Tuscon's Arizona Rose Theatre Company, takes us inside a meeting of the Christopher Walken Club (CWC), a society it may surprise you to learn is devoted to the promotion, veneration, and reverent imitation of the guy who starred in The Prophecy, The Prophecy II and The Prophecy 3: The Ascent, which replaced the stupid Super Bowl-style Roman numerals with more egalitarian Arabic numerals. Probably this organization should have a more formal sobriquet, like the National Association for the Advancement of Christopher Walken.

Like a notably high number of the shows in this year's festival, this one has prerecorded video elements. The show's preamble is a fauxumentary covering the CWC's attempt to get a statue of their guy erected in downtown Tuscon, next to the statue of Caesar Chavez, with some man-on-the-street exploration of which of these figures really warrants his own statue.

There's some immediate conflict when mild-mannered Jerry Lipkin (Brandon Howell) brings his colleague Chris Ronald (Stephanie Howell), to her first CWC meeting, owing to the fact she would be club's first female member. Spider Chavez, who appears to be the organization's only person of color (he's played by Ruben Rosthenhausler, the playwright) is initially opposed to her candidacy but even he can't deny her advanced linguistic skills when all present begin speakin' Walken. After that there's a threadbare plot about the group preparing to compete in the Walken in His Shoes convention, which rates would-be Walkengangers on the accuracy of their impressions in the categories of hair, speech, and so on. It's just enough story to keep the joke-supply-chain lubricated until we get to Walken in His Shoes' eponymous power-ballad finale (words and music by Ruben Rosthenhausler).  Actually, it's more like a steady supply of the same joke: We Are All of Us Christopher Walken. It's a pretty funny one, though.

The production appears to be a family affair. There are six Howells in the cast and crew and four Rosthenhauslers. That's nice to see. The family that does impressions together stays together. Christopher Walken said that, in one of the more than 120 feature films in which he's appeared. Probably. It's a statistical likelihood.

See it if: You believe that listening to men, women, and children tawlk Walkenese at one another is a joke with a shelf life of not less than 55 minutes.

Skip it if: You're good on cowbell already, thank you very much.