Once upon a time, Pittsburgh's nightclub scene featured a number of venues where local performers created evenings of songs and sketches … while the audience sat ringside lapping up both the show and a martini.
By the time I came along (in the late '80s), there were only a few still working that corner. Don Brockett was the big name in the biz; Winnie Flynn was the queen of the North Hills; and John Holt had a recurring gig up on Mount Washington. But eventually, even that went away; Brockett passed on, Flynn moved out of town and Holt packed it in.
But wait! There's light on the horizon. After 17 years, Flynn has returned to Pittsburgh and, probably because she couldn't not, she's up to her old tricks.
The inaugural outing is called Good Times, and it's prototypical Winnie. Five performers and a two-piece band run through a program of existing as well as old songs with new lyrics and short skits written by La Flynn.
The unifying theme is a spoofy look at life and love in Pittsburgh. To tell you the truth, the theme might have been a little too broad, since the material does tend to wander.
But when Flynn hits the mark, she really hits it. I especially enjoyed a Sunset Boulevard parody entitled "Babcock Boulevard Suite." There's a version of Carmen set in Blawnox and, of course, Sister Winifred and the Little Sisters of the Port Authority are as enjoyable as always.
As in years past, I'm left wishing Flynn wouldn't be so damn nice all the time. The show does teeter between affectionate and corny, and a couple splashes of vinegar could add some structural tension.
Fortunately, Flynn has re-enlisted her entertainment pros: Jeannie Wattras, Terry McGuire and Chuck Schu. Newcomers Sam Carmella and Matt Brown add to the fun, and I have to mention Billy Hepfinger's glorious voice and the cast of crazies living up in his head who manage to escape, the yinzer optometrist being a particular favorite.
So, Winnie, welcome home … you've been missed.
Good Times continues through Sun., Oct. 30. The Legacy Theatre, 700 Cumberland Woods Drive, Allison Park. 412-394-3353 or www.winnieflynn.com