This uproarious, satirical take on celebrity culture by Dan Callahan, Brendan Connor, and Tom Dunn remains fresh and timely. A couple of characters have been removed and one actor's role has been greatly expanded since last year's run; but many of the original cast members have returned, and their presence ensures that the show is viciously entertaining.
Although theshow that will appeal most strongly to those who closely follow the lives and careers of Hollywood celebrities as covered by the media, there's still more than enough here to entertain everyone. The nominal plot -- Woody Allen's friends and associates gather at his wake only to learn that he was murdered, with each of them a suspect -- isn't the most memorable element of the show; rather, it's the actors' portrayals of the celebs. My personal favorites are Jill Ann Dugan's hilariously jittery Diane Keaton and Peter Loureiro's solid-gold, disturbingly deadpan Christopher Walken, but even those who are less than ideal for their roles come across well. Much of the fun of the performances of Ed Moran and Michael Somerville comes from how little they resemble Alan Alda and Leonardo DiCaprio, while John Mattey's caricature of Ed Burns and Kola Ogundiran's almost stereotypical Spike Lee are probably the bloodiest skewerings of the evening. John Francis Mooney is ideally double-cast as the diva-like Dianne Wiest and the self-promotional Conan O'Brien.
"Funeral Tonight," a musical number sung to the tune of "Comedy Tonight" from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, gets the show off to an energetic start. Sung by Billy Crystal (played by Christopher Wisner, one of the show's producers and, with E. Matthew Haggerty, a co-contributor of the new lyrics), it sets the tone for the evening as one of celebrity self-congratulation. Carter Roy, as John Cusack, narrates with increasing amounts of ridiculousness and hilarity. Jon Shaver, as the detective investigating Allen's murder, has the most difficult role in that he plays the one non-celebrity; still, he comes across well as a combination plot catalyst and outside observer, offering an Everyman's view of the shenanigans in which celebrities engage when they think that no one is looking.
There are a few moments, particularly in the second act, when the madcap pace flags and the show begins to drag just a little, but these are mercifully few and far between. On the whole, Who Killed Woody Allen? is a delightfully zany yet strangely affectionate tribute to the celebrities we all love (or love to hate) in spite of (or because of) their peccadilloes and all-too-human imperfections.
[To access Brooke Pierce's review of the original engagement of Who Killed Woody Allen? click here.]