The 10th Royal Olympian Spectacular Vaudeville Show might be even more of a spectacle than usual.
The show, opening Friday (Oct. 14), features comedy, music, burlesque and entertainment that defies classification, all hosted by the plump red-cheeked Lord Franzannian, also known as storyteller-actress-theatrical powerhouse Elizabeth Lord.
This year, Lord will be joined by some of the show’s best-known alumni, including actress Lauren O’Neill and comedian Sam Miller, who’s been chosen to compete in this year’s Seattle International Comedy Competition.
Lord herself will perform this year, as well as hosting as the padded and mustachioed Franzannian.
“I got a lot of feedback last year that people missed the little bits I do,” she said. “Since it’s the 10-year anniversary, I’m actually reprising some skits I did years ago.”
The show has blossomed over the decade. The first year, there were just three performances in The Midnight Sun Performance Space, which seats 45.
This year, the show has moved to Obsidian’s performance space, which seats 80, and there are seven performances, including a family-friendly matinee Nov. 15.
Some people don’t want to sit down and watch a Shakespeare play, but they can enjoy a live performance if the act changes every two or three minutes. This is a bridge between watching television and going to the theater.
Elizabeth Lord, host of the show
The show’s success doesn’t surprise Lord.
“Some people don’t want to sit down and watch a Shakespeare play,” she said, “but they can enjoy a live performance if the act changes every two or three minutes. This is a bridge between watching television and going to the theater.
“I figured I’d keep doing the show as long as there was an audience for it and there were performers interested in it,” she added. “That hasn’t abated.”
Over the years, there have been many memorable moments.
There was Aaron Bredlau — another past performer who’s back this year — dressed as a silent and lonely wedge of cheese. (See it at bit.ly/2esZ4DY.)
There was a highly comical dance performed with exercise balls and another featuring a tutu-clad Franzannian.
And then there was Miller, who launched his entertainment career at the 2008 vaudeville show, where he balanced things on his chin, much to the awe of audience members.
Miller performed at the show three years running and was an audience favorite, Lord said.
Miller, the host of the weekly comedy show Vomity at Le Voyeur in Olympia, started his entertainment career at the 2008 vaudeville show, where he balanced such items as chairs and lawnmowers on his chin. Really.
“Elizabeth Lord gave me a chance,” he said, “and she has helped me out with comedy as well. She’s a great person.”
Lord remembers his first audition.
“He walked in and said, ‘I can balance stuff on my chin,’ and then he picked up a chair and put the leg of the chair on his chin and balanced it,” she said.
She was impressed and helped him develop his talent into an act with music and pacing, and he became an audience favorite, returning for two more years to balance other objects.
“Every time I talk to someone about the vaudeville show, they say, ‘Is that balancing guy coming back?’ ” she said in 2010. “He’s the one big favorite.”
A 2012 neck injury stopped Miller’s amazing feats of strength, but he wasn’t done with show biz. In 2014, he began doing stand-up comedy, and he’s found success performing in clubs in Seattle and Portland as well as closer to home. Last month, he performed with Brad Upton at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts.
He’ll perform in preliminary rounds during week 1 of the Seattle International Comedy Competition in early November.
Though getting into the competition gives him some real comedy cred, Miller isn’t complacent about his vaudeville performance.
It’s more difficult to do a successful comedy set at a variety show than in a comedy club, he said.
“One of the big challenges is matching the energy in the room,” he said. “It would be hard to go up there after somebody doing burlesque.
“Doing standup at a show like this is as a lot harder than doing the chin-balancing thing,” he added. “For me, balancing stuff on my chin hurts, but it’s really easy, whereas comedy is really hard, but it feels good.”
Lord Franzannian’s Royal Olympian Spectacular Vaudeville Show
What: The 10th annual show, produced by the BigShowCity Performing Arts Organization and hosted by Lord Franzannian (Elizabeth Lord), brings back some of the most popular performers from past years, including Sam Miller, Lauren O’Neill, and band Scuff and Al.
When: 8 p.m. Friday (Oct. 14)-Sunday and Oct. 21-23, with a family friendly matinee at 2 p.m. Oct. 23.
Where: Obsidian, 414 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia.
Tickets: $15-$25 in advance or at the door (no one will be turned away at the door for lack of funds). For the matinee, it is $7 for 15 and younger.
Note: The shows are recommended for ages 16 and older, except the Nov. 15 matinee, which is appropriate for all ages.