Triple Espresso

As any coffee lover will tell you, ordering a triple espresso—and its concomitant commitment to psychological and physical acuity—is an act of faith that the activities in the short-term future will be worth the investment of time and attention, for nothing is worse than getting all hopped up with nowhere to go.

Photo of cast in Triple Espresso
Cast in Triple Espresso
Photo credit: Terry Shapiro
In the Denver Center Attractions presentation of the three-man comedy, Triple Espresso, our expectations are built upon the show's highly-successful ongoing runs in Minneapolis and San Diego, and various successful dates in other major metropolitan settings in the U.S. and Britain.

The buzz from these performances has been generated by the show's unique combination of talent—magic, comedy, and music—that reflect the strengths of the original writers and performers, and the entertainers they've hired to carry on their work.

The story unfolds as a memory of Hugh Butternut, a piano player celebrating the 25th anniversary of his lounge act. In between sappy renditions of Frankie Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," he introduces his parents, his wife, his former scout master, and his two ex-partners, Buzz Maxwell and Bobby Bean.

As the retelling proceeds, we relive how Hugh, Buzz, and Bobby met, and get glimpses of each of their acts and the issues that drove them apart. At times, the audience is called upon to get involved, as they would if this were taking place in a cabaret.

Photo of magic scene from Triple Espresso
Magic scene from
Triple Espresso
Photo credit: Terry Shapiro
While the show certainly has its moments—J.C. Cutler (Hugh) is an accomplished pianist, John Bush (Bobby Bean) is a worthy stand-up comic and shadow puppeteer, and Patrick Albanese (Buzz) pulls off some slick sleight-of-hand—the material doesn't sustain itself for the two hours and change that it runs, falling far short of the jolt implied by the show's title.

The missing elements include a combination of demographics and beverages. The music, the comedy, and the magic would be much more appreciated by a middle-class audience drinking gin and tonics in a nightclub than a theatre crowd sipping lattés in a café.

Triple Espresso has a summer engagement at the Ricketson Theatre in the Denver Center. 303-893-4100.

Bob Bows


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