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THEATER REVIEW : McDonald Excels in Latest ‘Groundlings’

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Michael James McDonald makes a big splash in the Groundlings’ latest revue, “Groundlings Boulevard.”

First he’s a preening young movie star in a TV interview. Then he’s a fearful airplane passenger who cackles at his own worst-case fantasies. Next, he’s an unwitting social misfit whose long limbs flap all over his tiny college dorm room while he tells his new roomie (Jim Wise) about their future together. This one gets giant-sized howls.

A last McDonald sketch, co-written and performed with Mike Hitchcock, also makes skillful fun of the socially unskilled. Coming so soon after the roomie sketch, it doesn’t say much for the depth and magnanimity of McDonald’s pieces. But his talent is unmistakable.

Tony Sepulveda wrote and stars in a funny piece about an extremely demanding boss. Mary Scheer does a dead-on impression of a gravel-voiced, chain-smoking restaurant hostess, and Jennifer Joyce creates another hard-bitten dame, a reporter covering Bosnia.

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Male Groundlings outnumbered the women 7-to-3 last Saturday. The Groundlings have a lot of female talent (including director Deanna Oliver), but this show could use more of it. Four of the five improvs were mediocre, but the fifth--set backstage at a play about the Waco, Tex., cult--almost made up for the rest.

* “Groundlings Boulevard,” 7307 Melrose Ave. Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 and 10 p.m. $15.50-$17.50. (213) 934-9700. Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes.


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