Wednesday, March 7, 2012

'Bye Bye Liver — The Nashville Drinking Play' Is Boozy Good Fun

Posted By on Wed, Mar 7, 2012 at 7:43 AM

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If you’re looking for an inexpensive, fun way to kick off your Saturday night before embarking on a hard night of debauchery, there’s a great new option playing in Midtown. Just have your Designated Driver drop you off at the Blue Bar for an 8 p.m. performance of Bye Bye Liver — The Nashville Drinking Play.

Nashville is the seventh city to open an ongoing run of performances of BBL, but it’s really something of a homecoming. The live sketch comedy show was originally written and developed in Chicago in 2006 by a band of theater department alumni from MTSU, led by Byron Hatfield. The group formed The Pub Theatre in Chicago after five years of performing around Music City as N.A.S.N.N.I.P. (Not Always Shakespeare, Not Necessarily in the Park).

The show pokes fun at the drinking class by taking a satirical look at all the stereotypes that we’ve come to expect to inhabit our favorite watering holes. There’s the girl whose personality and mood swings are vastly exaggerated by drinking liquor, like a gremlin that’s been fed after midnight. The clever sketch even shows the expected effect from various different types of spirits. Don’t get me started on tequila …

The secrets of what happens when women congregate in the ladies’ room are also revealed, although I can’t speak to their accuracy. Shane Almgren as the piano accompanist who is almost always onstage becomes a very effective and funny part of the acting troupe when called upon to provide the mood music for one attempt at a romantic encounter. He is also an integral part of an audience-participation of a “name that tune” sort of game that encourages jolly sing-alongs after each answer. There are several other opportunities to embarrass yourself publicly as part of the audience, so don't sit on the aisle if you're timid. (Actually, you probably should give it a miss if you're shy.)

Local Nashvillian stereotypes are not spared the satirical skewer either, as East Nasty hipsters and droll Green Hills residents take their lumps along the way. Luckily, the tone of the show is rarely hurtful, albeit definitely R-rated.

Prices at the bar in the back of the showroom are pretty reasonable considering they have a very captive audience that is wound up to get their drink on, and “social drinks” are called for by Matt Vurry in his role as the emcee and bartender of the production. Actually he just screams “SHOT TIME,” so it might better be described as anti-social behavior, but fun nonetheless.

Other standout performers are Vance McCarty as the character actor who gets the worst of almost every skit and Nashville gadabout and SouthComm contributor Heather Byrd, who is consistently funny and gregarious in her various roles.

Expect to be packed in the venue like sardines with at least one or two large groups of bachelorette parties or semi-predatory “brahs” out for a night of meeting bachelorette parties. The pheromones percolating in the room are magnified by the internal application of ethanol, but that’s the point. Patrons are encouraged to arrive loose and get looser.

Admission is $12 for the show, which runs about an hour and a quarter. Performances frequently sell out, so go ahead and make your reservations early by calling 1-800-650-6449 for an evening of drinking and not thinking. The box office is open from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and 2 p.m. until last call on Friday and Saturday. Then call a cab and set forth toward the bars of Nashville to create your own funny stories to talk about next weekend.

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