Songs of the Stone Age

UG: The Caveman Musical is performed for only the third time— at Chico Cabaret

SKIN FLICK<br>Caveman fired up.

Caveman fired up.

Photo By C. Moore

Chico Cabaret

2201 Pillsbury Rd., Suite C-1
Chico, CA 95926

(530) 895-0245

It took some doing, but Chico Cabaret is finally bringing UG: The Caveman Musical to its stage.

Cleverly written, the romantic comedy takes a prehistoric look at show business when there was no business—coquettish cavewomen, fame-seeking Neanderthals and grouchy bearskin designers vie for fame and fortune, making comical discoveries along the way. With tongue firmly in cheek, the inside look at the acting business through the eyes of a caveman discovering the theater world is hilarious. Keep in mind: This ain’t no Flinstones.

The musical was written by Jim Geoghan, a former stand-up comedian and sitcom writer who worked on some Nick-at-Nite favorites, including Punky Brewster, Three’s Company and Silver Spoons. Chico Cabaret’s Phil Ruttenburg said he hopes Geoghan will make it up to Chico to see the musical, which is the second production of Geoghan’s the Cabaret has performed (the first was Only Kidding).

Phil and Sue Ruttenburg have actually been attempting to bring the production to Chico for more than two years. After hearing about the show from a Cabaret patron who saw it in San Jose (where it debuted at the San Jose Stage Company in 2005), the Ruttenburgs traveled to see it in Los Angeles at the Attic Theatre and liked what they saw.

“It’s such a funny show,” Phil said. “The music is so great; it makes me happy to hear it.”

Caveman make fire.

Photo By C. Moore

Communicating with Geoghan, waiting through rewrites and communication breakdowns, the Ruttenburgs initially attempted to run the play last fall, but couldn’t cast it due to a lack of talent in initial auditions.

"[The actors] have to be able to do everything,” Phil said. “They have to be able to sing, dance and act, and they have to do all three of them very well.”

The music was written by the late Rick Rhodes, who contributed to movie soundtracks and television shows (Wild Things and Family Ties among them), and the lyrics are by Rhodes and his wife, Vivian, as well as Geoghan.

For the Chico performance, only the third time the show has ever been done, choreographer Shannon Gans and set designer Renee Boyd will join musical director Jeff Childs.

The role of UG is being played by the charming Jeff White, a Cabaret veteran, who belts out lyrics about his new and inventive way of telling stories with aplomb. White’s wife, Robin, plays Bandala, UG’s love interest. The role of the sexy cavewoman, Tatata, is played perfectly by Kelsi Fossum-Traush, who flirts and sings her way through the show with sultry abandon. Bryan Finnigan, a comedian and writer himself, is Bob the gay caveman, a hilarious role he does justice to.

This time around, Phil Ruttenburg said he found the actors he needed, those with a triple threat and a sense of humor.

“I’ve got an incredible cast,” he said. “This is one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve worked on in a long time. The cast is so dedicated and they work so hard. They’ve all taken some risks.”