More Humor Than History

Article Published: Jul. 5, 2012 | Modified: Jul. 16, 2012
More Humor Than History

Ensemble Stage actors, from left, Scott Wilson, Victor Rivera and Mark Woodard sail through time in the new comedy, ‘The Complete History of America (Abridged).’ The production begins this Saturday, July 7, at Blowing Rock School Auditorium.

Photo by Jeff Eason

Imagine, if you will, three wise-cracking vaudevillian comedians teaching a college course on American history.

If you can imagine that, then you have the basic idea for the hilarious new stage comedy, “The Complete History of America (Abridged).”

Ensemble Stage will present “The Complete History of America (Abridged)” on stage at the Blowing Rock School Auditorium from Saturday, July 7, through Sunday, July 15. Tickets are on sale now.

“The Complete History of America (Abridged)” was written by Adam Long, Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor of the Reduced Shakespeare Company and stars Mark Woodard, Scott Wilson and Victor Rivera. Gary Lee Smith is directing the Ensemble Stage production of the show.

“The Reduced Shakespeare Company has produced a series of these ‘condensed’-themed stage shows, including shows that present the complete works of William Shakespeare, the history of Hollywood and even the condensed version of the Bible,” Rivera said.

According to the tagline of the show, “The Complete History of America (Abridged)” presents 12,000 years of history in 6,000 seconds.

“We start out in 1492, then we go back to visit the original settlers of North America,” Wilson said. “It’s all really fast-paced with a lot of costume changes. Bu the scenes happen so quickly that a lot of times it is just a costume change of a hat or a robe.”

With a minimal set of a giant American flag, it is up to the three actors to carry the lion’s share of the action and comedy.

At one point, Woodard plays William Clark opposite Rivera’s Meriwether Lewis in a bawdy take on the early 19th-century explorers’ journey to the Northwest. A little later on, Francis Scott Key’s “Star Spangled Banner” is up for replacement as our national anthem. Soon after that, the odd coincidences between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy and their assassinations are examined.

Clearly, this is a comedy that revels in being irreverent, and serious historians who lack a sense of humor could easily be offended.

“It’s more humor than history, but it contains a lot of real history,” Woodard said. “You can’t take it too seriously, because it is very much like a vaudeville stage production, but you can actually learn a few historical facts along the way.”

And, like many adult vaudeville shows, there are some moments of comedy and dialogue that are meant for a more mature audience.

“If it were a movie, it would definitely be rated PG-13,” Woodard said.

According to the three actors, “The Complete History of America (Abridged)” was written in 1992, but is updated by the Reduced Shakespeare Company from time to time.

“Our version gets pretty close to the present,” Woodard said. “I think it goes all the way up to the presidency of George W. Bush.”

Woodard was last seen in the Ensemble Stage production of “Moon Over the Brewery” earlier this summer and will be directing the company’s next show, the murder mystery, “Fit to Kill.”
Rivera will be working on Ensemble Stage’s Children’s Theatre programs later this summer.

And Wilson, a Florida-based actor, will be traveling to Miami after the show for a new production there.

Tickets & Times

“The Complete History of America (Abridged) will presented on stage in Blowing Rock at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 7; Monday, July 9; Tuesday, July 10, Friday, July 13; and Saturday, July 14; and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 8 and Sunday, July 15.

Tickets for the show are $17 for adults, $15 for seniors, military personnel and students, and $10 for children 10 and under.

For more information, or to reserve your seats, call Ensemble Stage at (828) 414-1844 or visit

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