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Capsule Reviews

Our critics weigh in on local theater

Boy Groove "You make my hips buck," sings the gyrating boy band, voguing in front of the audience. Aaron Macri and Chris Craddock's musical spoof Boy Groove is having its U.S. premiere at Theatre LaB Houston, and in it, fictional teeny-bopper sensation Boy Groove gets screwed just like it ought to be. Your hands will be chapped from applause and your face will ache from laughter during its zippy, intermission-less 90 minutes, which lay out the quartet's history, from gestation through meteoric success, scandal, comeback and burnout. This is all thanks to Carl, the greasy manager-producer who hires the four twinkies not for their talent, but because his marketing demographics require four distinct "types." What's so much fun about this parody is that by fade-out, when the fab four reprise their first hit, we actually like these insipid little twits, in no small part because of the singing-and-dancing young actors, whose energy brings Craddock's narcissistic foursome to vibrant life. They also play all the other characters who swirl through this rags-to-riches-to-rags Teen Beat story: fatuous reporters, a low-rent lawyer, a cop, George Michael, Richard Simmons, badass rapper Hype-tastic and a twitchy hip-hop alien from planet DuranDuran. Jason Blagec plays egotistical, gay Lance, who prays to Jesus for a bigger penis "to match my stature in pop music." Quincy Starnes plays clever, financially savvy Kevin, who parlays his fortune into starting another annoying boy band. Aaron Stryk plays dumb, sensitive Andrew, whose shallow humanitarian streak (see song "Stop Right There, Hunger!") is matched only by his IQ. And Doug Thompson plays angry, spiked collar-wearing, space-tripping Jon, who can't wait to be "bonin' some alien." Superbly directed and choreographed by Linda Phenix, Boy Groove is platinum, man, pure platinum. Through July 10. 1706 Alamo, 713-868-7516.

Life Beyond the LoopThat loony Fertle family is on hiatus until September, so instead you'll just have to content yourself with Radio Music Theatre's hilarious parody Life Beyond the Loop. The show is as bracing as a headfirst dunk into a bucket of ice water. Here, the superb comic trio (author Steve Farrell, Vicki Farrell and Rich Mills -- with sound- and music-effects wizards Mark Cain and Pat Southard) takes us to Houston-area planned community Precious Trees and proceeds to shake out enough nuts to feed the elephants at the zoo. Among the numerous topical items and persons expertly lambasted: our new accident-prone Metro, the unstoppable developer Tilman Fertitta, the nudie bar/restaurant Kajankers, George and Barbara Bush, the sleazy televangelist Jiffy Dillman and the incompetent Spy Eye News, with its consumer advocate Damuel Madd ("I'm Dam Madd"). There's a plot -- there's always a good plot at RMT's three-ring circus -- but it's only an excuse for timely gags, razor-sharp timing and brilliant song parodies. And let's not forget the Margaret Mueller Miller Mitchell...something, something...Pavilion, the "instant damnation" of Al Franken, Uncle Dan's insane furniture commercials and the dessert of choice at Precious Trees: pudding! Through August 28. 2623 Colquitt, 713-522-7722.

Seussical Billed as a family show, Seussical really is for kids, especially as it plays out at Main Street Theater -- that is, with virtually no irony. Still, there's a lot here for the adults in the audience to enjoy. Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's lovely score and libretto are influenced by everything from R&B to Caribbean beats, and the music sticks with you in a happy way, long after the show is over. The familiar characters are charming in the hands of this wonderfully capable cast. The Cat in the Hat, played by the rubbery actor who goes by the single name of JOHNSON (some might remember him as the more ordinary-named Jef Johnson), slithers out on to the stage on his belly, leaps about on red suede shoes and flings himself through the audience, much to the delight of nearby kids. There's also a Who-boy named JoJo, played by Trey Stoker, who could charm any adult. He bounces about the stage as if his feet were made of springs, and sings with gutsy little-boy muscle, flinging his fists out and pitching his head back. And, of course, at the center of all the Seussicalstrangeness is Kregg Alan Dailey's lumbering yet gentle Horton the Elephant, who is good, kind and true to his word wherever he goes. Dailey inhabits Horton with such disarming honesty that even the Grinchiest grown-up will find himself smitten with the elephant's troubles. Through July 18. 4617 Montrose Blvd., 713-524-6706.

 
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