Kevin P. Taft
Asylum Lab | 1078 Lillian Way, Hlywd | Tickets $20 | Through Feb. 6 | cafearts.com/asylum
With thousands of actors in Los Angeles and New York waiting for their big break, the chances of really breaking into the biz and making a name for yourself are pretty slim. But with thousands of actors slaving away in parts that are mostly unappreciated, sometimes those are the people with the most interesting stories.
And so goes the tale of industry veteran Larry Blum. Now starring in his one-man show, Blink & You Might Miss Me, Blum chronicles his life as an actor and dancer, from his early stock theater productions, to landing the coveted role of Greg in the touring company of A Chorus Line, dancing on a Barry Manilow special and most recently helping the crème de la crème of actresses up the wobbly steps of the Kodak Theatre.
And while he never made it as a leading man or even a character actor, what’s so fascinating about Blum is the astounding experiences he’s had.
Whether hanging out with Cher in her dressing room or shopping at her private yard sales, sitting next to Lucille Ball while they watched her daughter Lucy perform, giddily jumping up and down on The Dating Game or escorting Susan Lucci up the steps of the Daytime Emmy Awards when she finally won her award, Blum has seen it all. And he’s got stories. Lots and lots of stories.
Running a scant 65 minutes, Blum’s small show plays like a Kathy Griffin comedy special. While not gut-bustingly hilarious, his stories are consistently amusing and generate a fair amount of “oh my Gods” as he offers up yarn after yarn of goodies. (I won’t spoil the Lucille Ball punchline, but it’s worth the price of admission alone.) And while Blum does seem to be simply reciting the lines he wrote without the casual banter that might make it seem a bit warmer, he is an engaging performer. He does go on a bit about his early sexual conquests as a gay man growing up in the ‘70s, but he tells those tales in a tongue-in-cheek way, not so much to brag. He’s the kind of guy you want to sit next to at a boring event so he can regale you with stories of Solid Gold, Bette Midler and Olivia Newton-John. For example, he relays that after shooting three endings to the phenomenal flop Xanadu, Newton-John said, “I don’t even know what this movie is about anymore!” With no sign of arrogance or bravado, Blum offers a life that didn’t quite get to the place he always hoped he would, but is a life full of experiences one can only dream of.
Straightforwardly directed by Stan Zimmerman using a black-box stage and allowing Blum to use a small variety of props and video clips, Blink isn’t a powerful night out at the theater, nor is it a rollicking evening of hilarity. But it doesn’t need to be.
As the show ends, Blum offers this observation: that sometimes the most unassuming people can have the grandest stories. As he tells it while smiling a devilishly knowing grin, this is a show about striving for the stars, not quite getting there, but being wholly appreciative for what you have experienced along the way. And we’re darn lucky to get to hear all about it and smile along with him.