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Theatre Review (LA): CHiPs The Musical by Rick Batalla and Henry Phillips at the Falcon Theatre

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The zany group of actors known collectively as the Troubies, or Troubadour Theatre Company, has come up with a wildly satiric version of the famous television series CHiPs which starred Erik Estrada as the rebellious and macho motorcycle cop Ponch Poncherello and Larry Wilcox as his handsome but straitlaced partner, Officer Jonathan “Jon” Baker. The series ran from 1977 until 1983 although along the way there were cast changes, disputes, hard feelings, and accusations of unprofessional behavior. Of course this made a perfect match with the Troubadour Theatre Company, which specializes in musical send-ups of everything from Shakespeare’s Macbeth to a series of Christmas shows, the latest being Frosty the Snow Manilow where the music was by Barry Manilow but the lyrics had been drastically changed to make it all a satire and a rousing comedy filled with madcap mayhem. Out of this has come CHiPs The Musical, now playing at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank.

Now usually Matt Walker, the genius Artistic Director, has a lot to do with the Troubies’ projects being the writer, conceiver, actor, and leader of the group. This time however he merely directs and acts and leaves the writing to Henry Phillips, who has created twisted stories for Comedy Central and Jimmy Kimmel, and Rick Batalla who is a brilliant improviser and has written for TBS, NBC, and CBS. His musical takeoff based on Robert Blake called Blake…Da Musical won an Ovation Award for Best Musical. Here Batalla plays Ponch and he is hysterical, complete with a bike to die for and prop teeth that shed a blinding light. Walker plays Baker in a cheapo blond wig that garners its share of laughs. Both wear impossibly tight pants. The villains of the piece are female eco-terrorists sporting roller skates and short shorts.

As the press material states: “The boys are back and this time they’re singing.” The singing of course is excellent and getting better with each show. The music is original and lots of fun. If you can score a ticket, go see CHiPs The Musical at the Falcon Theatre. It runs until July 25th.

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About Robert Machray

  • Dayna

    I saw the show and it was HYSTERICAL! Fresh, original music, tight pants, sexual innuendo, bad guys (who are girls, but some are guys in drag)… It was AWESOME.

  • Thanks for catching that, Guy D. Corrected in the text. – Ed.

  • Guy D

    Chips’ TV run must have slipped by the editors. 1997 to 1983? The show sounds like a blast.