Some Greeks Are Not In The Resturant Business

Giving his father a loving tribute
Greg Lewis reflects on his roots in "Some Greeks Are Not in the Restaurant Business."

Greg Lewis is one of those craggy character actors whose faces are instantly recognizable, even though their names may elude you.

Lewis reflects on his Greek roots and his showbiz past in "Some Greeks Are Not in the Restaurant Business," his one-man show at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. Director Robert Walden once again helms Lewis' reminiscences.

There's no shortage of juicy anecdotes in this latest autobiographical outing. Lewis is blessed with a Proustian memory and a keen sense of comic timing honed during his years as half of the comedy duo Lewis & Christy, "the Mad Greeks."

He got his break at age 15 with the celebrated group the Harmonicats. Indeed, Lewis remains a dazzling harmonica player, as he proves here several times. Eventually, a grueling schedule drove him to a near-fatal brush with drugs and booze.

However, Lewis' real business in "Greeks" is sorting out his complicated relationship with his father, a harshly paternalistic Greek restaurant proprietor whom Lewis brings to vibrant life. Although his father died of a heart attack before the two were able to achieve any emotional intimacy, Lewis redresses that deficit, movingly, in this loving tribute to the man it has taken him a lifetime to understand -- and forgive.

Walden's simple staging places Lewis in an armchair and mostly leaves him there, a simple tack that lends a cozy "fireside chat" ambience to the proceedings. A few flaws are apparent. The structure of the show is somewhat episodic, and Lewis has a distracting tic of playing with his fingers. That's nitpicking, however. A congenial host and no mean raconteur, Lewis shares his droll memories with humor and generosity.

— F. Kathleen Foley, L.A. Times

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