Tom Mullica, a renowned magician, clown, ventriloquist and pantomimist, will bring his one-man show Red - A Tribute to Red Skelton to Pike Performing Arts Center Feb. 18 at 8 p.m.
Skelton, a Vincennes native, enjoyed a career that spanned from the glory days of vaudeville to the golden age of television. His eponymous television show ran from 1951 to 1971 and featured many of his most famous characters, all clowns, including Clem Kadiddlehopper, a dim-witted rube; The Mean Widdle Kid whose antics and popularity foreshadow the cultural emergence of Bart Simpson a quarter decade later; San Francisco Red, a likeable con; the cross-eyed seagulls Gertrude and Heathcliffe; and the tramp Freddie the Freeloader.
Mullica befriended Skelton in the '80s and the two remained close until the elder comic's death in 1997. Mullica stays in the character of Skelton throughout the show, which traces Red's life from his fatherless upbringing through his showbiz introduction as part of a traveling medicine show at age 12, and then onward and upward into vaudeville, radio, movies and television. Mullica tenderly captures Skelton's essence, the gawking, noiseless, open-mouthed laugh, the homeland drawl and flirtations with anger and frustration.
Tickets for Red are still available through the PPAC box office (317-216-5455) at prices between $13 and $18. PPAC is located at 6701 Zionsville Road.
A collection of Skelton's artwork, costumes, awards and memorabilia will be on display, free of charge, in the PPAC lobby through Feb. 27.