Main Street delves into ‘Madness’ with sketch-comedy/variety show

By John Benson

COLUMBIANA — Live from Columbiana, it’s “Main Street Madness” taking place Saturday and Sunday at the Main Street Theater.

Billed as an evening of fun, music and laughter, this sketch-comedy/variety show began as a vision of Columbiana native Jim Couchenour.

“As far as the idea itself, we just really wanted to see if we could bring together a cast of people from the local community that wanted to act and could do comedy,” Couchenour said. “It was really kind of interesting that more people are involved in it than we originally thought, which was kind of neat. So we’re just doing it to provide a service to the community. And it’s been fun.”

Couchenour first tested the variety-show waters with last year’s holiday show “Finding Columbiana’s Christmas.”

“Jim Couchenour approached Main Street Theater last summer with an idea about a Christmas play, so we pursued it and it was a success,” said Main Street Theater owner Don Arthurs. “It was a very nice show. And through that we met Carla Sukosd, who approached me and said she’d always been interested in starting a comedy group. And ‘Finding Columbiana’s Christmas’ gave her the idea that it was something we could do at the Main Street Theater. So we got together with Jim Couchenour and started talking about it.”

For those who attended last year’s Christmas show, Couchenour said “Main Street Madness” takes a new approach.

“This will be different in that it’s a lot of different sketches,” Couchenour said. “The Christmas show was kind of one story that was woven through the whole thing, and here we have six- to seven-minute stand-alone skits. And we also have a new component where I’m releasing a new CD that I just did. So I’m going to do a music package right after intermission with songs from that CD.”

In addition to being a part-time musician with local jazz-fusion act SounDoctrine, Couchenour is a solo artist whose latest effort, “Quiet Canvas II,” can be described as new age or easy listening. For “Main Street Madness,” the singer-keyboardist will be performing alongside violinist Tina Gant.

As far as looking to the future, Arthurs is optimistic the Main Street Theater can host an event like “Main Street Madness” on a regular basis.

“It’s safe for the whole family and just a fun night out,” Arthurs said. “We’ll have some prizes, and if you like to laugh, you’ll like to come out and see this performance. A lot of the sketches are just kind of ridiculously funny. Like, we have a sketch based around a mime that follows people around. So it gets outrageous.”

Added Couchenour, “The way we kind of describe it is ‘The Carol Burnett Show’ meets ‘Saturday Night Live.’ We’ve got a couple of skits where the characters are just really like caricatures, and then we have a couple of other ones where it’s more of a cerebral kind of comedy. So it’s really a varied kind of approach. It is really family-friendly. If a family wanted to bring their teenagers or middle-school kids, it would be just as appropriate for them as it would be for retired people. We purposely kept it rated PG at best because we wanted to appeal to all ages.”