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REVIEW: ‘The Complete History of America’ is fabulous fun at Rio Grande Theatre


Blank Conversations Theatre Company is celebrating the return of live theater to Las Cruces with a second outstanding production at Rio Grande Theatre (RGT).

Following last weekend’s opening of its brilliant “The Mad Ones,” Blank Conversations premiered “The Complete History of America (Abridged),” by Adam Long, Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor, to a large and appreciative audience Wednesday night, July 7. The show will continue for three more Wednesday night performances – live and in person – through July 28 at RGT.

The props and special effects – including confetti, squirt guns, an Abraham Lincoln balloon-head and a beachball – are hilarious, and the costumes – Lucille Ball and Andrews Sisters (sort of) wigs, a coonskin cap, a giant Uncle Sam hat, tutus and sunglasses, to name a few – are excellent.

But, like their “The Mad Ones” counterparts, “History of America” co-directors Gus David Sanchez and Eva Cullen recognized that what really makes this show rock is its extraordinary cast.

Stars Brianna Horvath, Alyssa Gose and Collin Duffey are each so talented and so appealing. Individually, they are charming and fearless, each with amazing comedy timing that belies their youth.

Collectively, they are a ball of fire.

They sing (the brief bits of harmony were outstanding), they dance, they do great improv during an unrehearsed Q and A with the audience, they frolic and, collectively, they create a truly fun evening poking fun at everyone from Sacagawea to Spiro Agnew.

Each actor has many truly memorable moments in this show. I loved what Brianna did in an all-too-brief appearance as FDR; Collin was a great George W. Bush and a freakishly on-the-nose Joe Biden, and Alyssa was so cool in a trench coat and slouch hat as the film noir private eye Spade Diamond. And that’s only a tiny taste of the dozens of historical figures that each one portrayed on their journey from 1492 to 2021.

The 90-minute, two-act play is a little racy in places and completely irreverent. One of my favorite bits was the unique blending of two presidential assassinations, featuring a giant bullet that kept finding its way into scenes throughout the evening.

Go see this show. You may or may not learn anything about American history; you most certainly will have a great time and laugh a lot.

Kudos also go to stage manager Steven Cousler (he starred in Toad Hall’s excellent 2018 one-man show “Van Gogh” in 2018), assistant stage manager Kaylin Berglund, lighting designer Frankie Gomez, sound operator Carissa Galban, crew member Brianna Miranda and technical director and producer Topher Lininger.

Gold stars all around for these wonderful actors and this outstanding crew.

Performances of “The Complete History of America (abridged)” continue at 7 p.m. Wednesdays, July 21 and 28, at Rio Grande Theatre, 211 N. Main St. downtown. Tickets are $10.

Tickets and information can be found at www.riograndetheatre.com and www.blankconversations.org.

Blank Conversations Theatre Company, Rio Grande Theatre