‘Tortillo! 3:’ Reflects Physical Comedy at Its Best

August 29, 2022

“Tortillo! 3” – L-R Robert Webster Jr. & Lisa Marie Smith.

Magic Thread Cabaret, the company of which I am managing director, is presenting “Jewel Box Revue 2022,” in this year’s IndyFringe Theatre Festival. Consequently, my plate has been full and my time limited.  In the past, I have tried to review as many shows as possible, but this year, my packed schedule has not allowed me to sample only a few.  However, on Sunday I did have the opportunity to take in Casey Ross’ slapstick comedy “Tortillo! 3: Sombrero’s Revenge” at the IndyFringe Basile Theatre. Presented by Catalyst Repertory, which Ross co-founded, “Tortillo! 3” was also written and directed by Ross.

Having previously reviewed and been impressed with Catalyst’s last offering, dramedy “Lanista,” in July, I was keen to see this third installment of “Tortillo!” The previous two were also presented at past IndyFringe Festivals. Unfortunately, as I walked into the Basile to see the show, a video depicting the first and second installments of “Tortillo!” meant to bring the audience up to speed on the series, was nearly over. In the end, it did not matter, as “Tortillo! 3” stands well on its own and can be followed even if one has not seen the two installments that proceeded it.

I must admit that I had reservations about the show’s content based on the image used in the show’s marketing, depicting two of the show’s characters wearing sombreros. But upon seeing the show, it was made clear that the image is not meant to be offensive but rather, simply satirical. It is essentially an irreverent spoof of old sitcom stereotypes and the insensitive brand marketing of the 1990s.

Promoted as a “slap-stick snack food sitcom,” Ross’ cleverly conceived comedy’s wacky plot centers on Dave Dickens and employees of Tortillo, a stackable tortilla chip company (think Pringles), whose products have once again been tainted by cocaine.  Subplots include the return of celebrated drug lord “Sombrero” and former intern Patrick’s preoccupation with a new love interest. Filled with expletives (the show is not kid friendly), silly sight gags, and broad physical comedy, the screwball plot is secondary to the opportunity the show’s extremely talented ensemble has to entertain and tickle the funny bones of audiences who delight in irreverent humor.

“Tortillo! 3” – L-R David Pelsue & Trick Blanchfield.

Without a single weak acting/comedic link in its ranks, the “Tortillo! 3” cast consists of strong performers, all of whom shared the spotlight but also had their individual moments when they shined brightly. As good as any comedy ensemble I have seen, anywhere including that of Second City and SNL, the cast consisted of Robert Webster, Jr. (Dave Dickens), Dave Pelsue (Patrick Plummer) of whom I am an unabashed fan, Matt Anderson (Steven Hensen), Trick Blanchfield (Madeleine), Lisa Marie Smith (Juniper Cox-Dickens), Ryan Powell (Mitchell Hensen), Tristan Ross (Ted), and Brian Kennedy (John Entwistle).

If there were awards given for IndyFringe’s best direction and playwrighting, surely Ross would be in heavy contention for creating what best typifies the “fringe” concept of the festival.

There are two more performances of “Tortillo! 3: Sombrero’s Revenge,” Thursday, Sept. 1 at 9 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 3 at 1:45 p.m. at the IndyFringe Basile Theatre (venue 1). For tickets visit indyfringe.org.



photo: Josh Humble

About Tom

Journalist, producer, director, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, arts administrator, TV contributor, actor, model, writer and lyricist, Tom Alvarez has had an extensive career in media and the fine arts and continues to be an enthusiastic and devoted fan of both. His passion and unique background grant him insight, access and perspective to cover, promote and review the arts in Indianapolis, Central Indiana and beyond. Follow him on social media @tomalvarezartswriter and @tomalvarez1.

Alvarez has been writing about theatre, dance, music, cinema and visual arts for 40 years. His work has appeared in the Indianapolis Star, NUVO, Indianapolis Monthly, Arts Indiana, Unite Magazine, Dance Magazine, NOTE Magazine, and Examiner.com, among many other print and online platforms. A former contributor to Across Indiana on WFYI-TV, he currently has a regular performing arts segment on WISH-TV’s Life. Style. Live!

A principal of Klein & Alvarez Productions, LLC, Alvarez co-created “Calder, The Musical” and is the managing director of Magic Thread Cabaret. As an actor-model, he has appeared in numerous TV and print ads and is represented by the Helen Wells Agency and Heyman Talent Artists Agency.

On the Aisle Team

  • Creation, content, and publishing: Tom Alvarez
  • Copy editing: Marcia Eppich-Harris
  • Graphic design:- Casey Ross
  • Web development: Clay Mabbitt

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