For those wanting a good laugh, "CHiPS the Musical" has plenty. I've seen few shows as sharp as this one, and all the praise must go to the Troubadour Theater Company. A talented ensemble of actors, comedians and musicians, the Troubies, as they like to call themselves, have been performing on Southern California's stages for 15 years. Some of their most recent work pokes fun at everyone from Stevie Wonder ("It's a Stevie Wonderful Life") to Shakespeare ("Hamlet, the Artist Formerly Known as Prince of Denmark"). This time around, they chose a campy TV show from the 1970s, which proved to be great fodder for improvisation.
Not five minutes into the lavish opening number "We Are CHiPS," Officer John Baker (Matt Walker, who also directed) pointed to a few disruptive latecomers and jumped in to an impromptu rendition of Carly Simon's "You're So Vain." Before long, everyone in attendance clapped and joined in. I'm still uncertain if this was part of some elaborate ruse orchestrated by Walker, or just an impeccably timed bit of improvisation. Perhaps I wasn't alone in asking myself, "Was that scripted?"