Bird-brains to Watch Birds in Vaudeville
Martin and Zorn augur larks and laughs for Panajachel theater season
David and Barbara Ramey were wrong about one thing. When the dramatists and retired lobster trappers began snowbirding to Panajachel years ago, they doubted that the Atitlán Basin could support a theater company, much less supply the talent. That was before they discovered the pent-up comic acumen of Jennifer Martin and Thilda Zorn.
Jennifer, from the U.S., and Thilda, from Germany, confer drawing power on the Panajachel Theatre Company (PTC) as it lights its fifth candle. Barbara directs them in plays, many her own, with David as producer, set director and the guy who whispers forgotten lines from behind the curtain. David’s oddest role was in 2011 as “husband” to Bill Mumford, PTC’s leading man, in Carol Burnett’s famous skit, Wrong Number.
“Jennifer and Thilda are versatile performing geniuses,” Barbara says of her prodigies. “They act, they sing and dance, and they are wickedly funny and spontaneous. Their comic timing is flawless.”
Jennifer Martin, a masseuse, was the wacky, whiskey-chugging dental assistant in PTC’s 2009 skit, Dr. Drill. For that performance, she invented “Texpat,” an English “dialect” that blended Texan and Panajachel expat. She was also unforgettable as Katie Freezie in the 2011 skit The Ice Storm, a spoof of weather reporting. Katie, who does not know a meteor shower from a baby shower, lands a job by narrating the progress of a storm as if it were a horse race.
Martin and Panajachel musician Chris Jarnach were side splitters last year in the erudite British skit Dinner for One.
Thilda Zorn, an environmental activist, made her biggest mark with PTC as Flossy Dumpit in Barb Ramey’s 2010 play, The Red Suitcase. In it, the hypochondriac Mrs. Dumpit careens into hysteria when her mashed red-pepper seeds and organic Preparation H disappear just when she and her skinflint husband, third-rate road-show thesbian, move into her father-in-law’s nursing home room to save money. Flossy brought audience participation to new heights by leaving the stage while singing Wunderbar.
“Thilda invaded the audience,” Barbara recalls. “She mussed hair, planted kisses, sat on laps. Just seeing her antics with the audience is by itself worth the price of admission.”
Martin and Zorn are featured this month in PTC’s vaudeville, which will include the Ramey skit, The Birdwatchers.
“As always,” says David Ramey, “we aim to outdo last year’s performance. This year’s skit-and-song array will be hard to beat; the rehearsals alone are a gas. Jennifer and Thilda are crowd wow-ers. I wonder how they’ll top this for next year.”
One thing remains unchanged: the venue at Panajachel’s La Galería.
Showtimes: March 30-31, 7pm; April 1, 4pm. Tickets Q50. The Galería is at Calle Rancho Grande and Avenida 14 de febrero. Telephone, 7762-2432.