STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For Digital First Media
Willie Nelson’s not the only one who’s “On the Road Again.” Local comedy legends Tony Braithwaite and Jennifer Childs are, too, so to speak – they’re performing a show with that title at Act II Playhouse Jan. 12 through 31.
Braithwaite, who’s the Producing Artistic Director of Act II, and Childs, who is the Producing Artistic Director of 1812 Productions (the country’s only professional theater dedicated to comedy), have worked together many times. The idea for this show seemed like it would work because travel is something everyone can relate to.
“Travel felt like it offered lots of ‘possibilities for funny,’” Braithwaite said in an email interview. “It’s universal. Everyone’s had a vacation, planned one, wanted one, or is on one right now as they are reading these words.”
The show will be a “comedy cabaret,” he said, with classic and new bits, songs, and more.
“It’s a variety format of sketches, characters, improvisation,” he said. “We strive to entertain and amuse.”
Braithwaite has some travel experience to draw from, though he said he’s not the best traveler.
“I hate flight travel, not the actual flying as much as the immense amount of hassle associated with it – the long lines and the jet lag that often accompanies wherever you go,” he said. “Hardly worth it. I’m much more of a stay-cation kind of dude.”
One of the worst trips he went on happened in fourth grade when his family went to St. Croix. The rest of his family was over 21, drinking, enjoying happy hours, and “having the time of their lives… living it up as adults do,” he said. “Fun for grown-ups, sheer boredom for me.”
One of the best trips was in seventh grade when his family went to New York City to see Broadway shows. They saw “Cats,” “42nd Street,” the Rockettes, and more. He didn’t know then it would lead to a life of performing, but it started him on the path.
“It was my first ever trip to Broadway, and from then on I was hooked,” he said.
Because they’ve worked together many times at both Act II and 1812, Braithwaite is looking forward to working with Childs again.
“She understands comedy deep in her DNA. She’s an incredibly generous performer to share the stage with,” he said. “And she makes me look tall.”
And the five-foot-tall-ish Childs enjoys working with him, too.
“No one makes me laugh like Tony Braithwaite,” she said in an email interview. “We have a similar aesthetic when it comes to comedy and a shared love of classic comedy. We are both entertainers as well as actors and we complement each other very well.”
Because of the two cabarets they’ve done – “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” and “Let’s Pretend We’re Famous,” she knows this musical comedy will be fun, too. In addition to travel being a universal subject, Childs said road movies with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby were inspirational, as were her own travel experiences. One of Childs’ worst vacation memories came from a trip to Colorado right after her parents separated.
“There are tons of pictures of my sisters and I looking miserable in front of gorgeous landscapes,” she said.
Her honeymoon (Childs is married to local actor Scott Greer) was amazing, though.
“We went to Normandy and several other cities in France,” she said. “While I’d been to Paris, it was the first time I’d been anyplace else in France so there was this joy of discovering new places and having adventures at the beginning of this new phase of my life with my husband.”
Unlike Braithwaite, who prefers to stay at home and binge-watch shows, Childs loves to travel and wishes she could do more.
“I love experiencing other cultures, exploring new cities and countrysides, eating strange food,” she said. “The world is so big and so beautiful. I would love to see as much of it as I can.”
Audiences will “travel” to several well-known places in the show, she said: The Grand Canyon, the Eiffel Tower, Morocco, and Ambler. Of course, Childs and Braithwaite will traverse the familiar territory of the stage to do all they can so the audience has a good time. People should come to see the show because “they like to laugh,” she said.
And just think – you only need a ticket. Your passport, with its notoriously bad photo, isn’t required.