Arts & Entertainment

New Play ‘Identity Heist” Challenges Gender Disparities in Film Industry

Miguel Ruiz | The PHOENIXMeghan Babbe and Bill Stern stared alongside a live sloth in "Identity Heist."

The latest production out of Second City Studios, “Identity Heist,” premiered at Judy’s Beat Lounge (230 North Ave.) this week. Starring Meghan Babbe, the “Tonight Show” parody featured plenty of witty improv that had the small venue erupting in laughter.

The aim of the performance was an attempt to flip the script on the highly male-dominated filmmaking industry of the ‘70s. The names of the guest stars were obvious parodies of popular ‘70s characters, such as James Bond and Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) from “The Godfather” (1972). This was made particularly apparent during “Alison” Pacino’s (Lindsey Smith) bit where she talks about “Martina” Scorsese as an up-and-coming movie director and the absurdity of having a man participate in a woman’s industry.

Using comedy and subtle quips to make a point rather than more outspoken methods, the show provided an interesting perspective on show business and the gender gap present in the industry. Another thing to note is the cast is predominantly female, giving the production a different and unique voice. Babbe and her fellow cast members knocked it out of the park with their expert timing.

The show featured live music and many special guests, including Babbe’s assistant, Bill (Bill Stern) disguised as eight-year-old Tatum O’Neal from her role in “Paper Moons” (1973), “Jill” Bond (Allison Ringhand) and a two-toed sloth named Steve.

Throughout the duration of the show, a special animal appearance was mentioned as Bill claimed to have a baby panther backstage. Instead, it was Steve the Sloth who appeared from the Flying Fox Conservation Fund, a foundation dedicated to the rehabilitation of fruit bat populations around the world. His gentle and uninterested demeanor stole the show. He sat beside his trainer, clutching a plush sloth toy while munching mindlessly on baby carrots.

A talented cast mixed with witty comedy and a sloth makes for one unique show. This was visible as the show’s audience, along with the performers, exited the Beat Lounge in a hurry, looking to get an Instagram-worthy selfie with Steve — all laughing on their way out the door.

Visit Judy’s Beat Lounge these next few months as “Identity Heist” will be having shows  Feb. 28, March 28 and April 25. Second City is also home to several other stages, including the Up Comedy Club and Mainstage Theater; Second City offers a wide range of content to match everyone’s comedic taste. Tickets to shows can be purchased online at www.secondcity.com.

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