Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
I saw Michael Patrick Gaffney as the The Oldest Living Cater Waiter: My Life in Three Courses on September 9th. The talented Gaffney is a well-known actor in the Bay Area whom I reviewed many times. He has given excellent performances in Anything Goes, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Gypsy, and The Drowsy Chaperone. Twelve years in the making, the talented artist wrote about his experiences preparing exquisite meals and preparing numerous characters for the stage. He has done workshops of this piece at the Berkeley Playhouse and Z Below.
Upon entering the PianoFight space the audience sees a dining room table. Gaffney comes out as an 80-year-old caterer to set the table. This gag reminded me of Ron Campbell who has occasionally done the "old waiter" bit to the delight of audiences. Gaffney disappears and then comes out to talk about going up to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. His first taste of appearing before an audience was in the school production of Jack and the Beanstalk in which he played the Giant. He tells about how he was hooked after that and wanted to become an actor. As an adult, Gaffney moves to Los Angeles where he gets a job on the night shift at a Circle K because he cannot find work as an actor, only playing costume characters roles at children's birthday parties in LA.
The gifted performer then moves to San Francisco which has an energetic theatre scene. He finds work as an actor in a naked musical revue called Party which runs all of seven months. He is happy to receive his Actor's Equity card at the time. In his first job as a cater waiter, he wears a tuxedo and fanaticizes about being Fred Astaire in The Gay Divorcee or Anthony Hopkins in Remains of the Day. This talented artist tells stories about fellow Broken Arrow residents Kristen Chenoweth and romance author Danielle Steel.
Gaffney constantly entertains the audience in this one hour solo performance. He juggles balls in a comic vaudeville scene, constantly moving and even running on top of a table and quoting Shakespeare. He also sings with his vibrant voice "Legit Stage Actor" to the tune of Sondheim's "Broadway Baby" with special lyrics by Tom Orr. He later sings Sondheim's "I'm Still Here" also with special lyrics by Tom Orr. This show is full of food references. Gaffney's delivery is sharp, and all of this is directed by Ken Sorkin who brings out the best in Michael Patrick Gaffney.
The Oldest Living Cater Waiter: My Life in Three Courses plays on Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 7 pm, Saturday September 17, 2016, at 8:30pm and Friday, September 23rd, 2016, at 7 pm at PianoFight Main Stage, 144 Taylor Street, San Francisco as part of the SF Fringe Festival. For tickets visit www.sffringe.org or call 415-673-3847. Tickets are also available at the door - cash only - for $12.00