MANish at a great-ish price

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Web-savvy theater lovers can still take advantage of a nifty offer on Ralph Harris’ MANish Boy, playing at Booth Playhouse through Sunday. The stand-up comedian/actor takes us along with him on a wholesome adventure that begins in a nightclub and ends on the streets of Philadelphia. An old girlfriend has tracked him down, claiming that Harris is the father of her 17-year-old son, who is now knee-deep in trouble.

The one-man show meanders beguilingly as Harris does what he does best: offers us spot-on portraits of his spry, straight-talking, 94-year-old grandfather and his hard-drinking Uncle Earl. A few more pinches of Flip Wilson – and a wig – would lift his impression of his girlfriend Betty, old enough to be his mother’s best friend, to the same lofty height.

More than a couple of the funniest and most dramatic moments have nothing to do with Harris’s quest for the truth about his paternity in Philly. We revisit his childhood and meet the two faces of his father, Saturday Dad and Devil Dad, and we share Ralph’s first misadventure with a rubber. There’s a showdown with Devil Dad when the absentee father comes home and tries to boss and bully Ralph, who has long since assumed the role of man of the house, and Grandpa’s spot is climaxed at a post office, where he is held at gunpoint.

Harris does the drama as artfully as the humor, but humor predominates. After TV appearances on Last Comic Standing and a movie role in Dreamgirls, I expected a larger crowd on opening night.

Word-of-mouth will likely fill more seats over the weekend, but if you want to get in on the PAC discount, $24.50 tickets reduced to two-for-$30, you need to go after tonight’s performance. And while you’re online, click on the link to join the PAC’s email club. That way, you won’t be seeing future discount offers at the very last minute.

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