nytheatre.com review by David Vining
August 18, 2010
T-O-T-A-L-L-Y! is a high-energy autobiographical solo show by Kimleigh Smith that works, and works on a lot of levels. First and foremost Kimleigh is a force of nature. Her energy and spirit carry the day as she tells her story, which is by turns harrowing and hilarious. Her dance training is evident from the very beginning, which surprises and delights given her self-confessed 195-pound frame.
Dressed as a cheerleader, Kimleigh grabs the audience and takes them through her journey to sexual maturity from her arrival at a Midwestern college as an uber-peppy 17-year-old virgin, through painful revelations all the way to her eventual reawakening as a modern-day Super Woman in Los Angeles. There are many stops along the way including Chicago, many therapists offices, and several different careers.
The journey is a rough one. But through good and bad, Kimleigh is positive, funny, eloquent, and candid—often explicitly so, but you never feel uncomfortable. Her rapport with the audience is so strong that you are with her one hundred percent. Go Kimleigh go! So much so that you have to stop yourself from cheering her on from your chair. As she tells of her various troubles "down there" as she says, it's like you know her, grew up with her, and you instinctively want to take care of her.
But Kimleigh doesn't need anyone to take care of her. By the end she is her very own superhero. And that's what we see in the show. She is a performer in complete control of herself and her show, even when things don't go exactly according to plan. Whether it is major life obstacles or minor technical glitches, Kimleigh faces problems head on and with a dazzling sense of humor.
The story of T-O-T-A-L-L-Y! is inspirational, entertaining as all get out, and truly worth seeing. Kimleigh Smith's presentation is polished, honest, and specific, down to her own shiny superhero-themed program. I saw the show on a Wednesday at 10pm and (as there are with these awkward time slots sometimes) there were a number of empty seats. But I imagine that will not be the case moving forward so show up early, get a drink in the bar upstairs at Dixon Place, and see this great performance.