Capsule Reviews

Our critics weigh in on local theater

Lou Tells a Big One The inspired clowns at Radio Music Theatre have another hit on their hands -- a funny, jam-packed, crazy-quilt comedy starring those ultra-loony denizens of Dumpster, Texas. That would be the singing Fertle Family and the boobies they know. Where to begin? Singer Country Wayne Conaway, the sleazy one-hit wonder, rehearses with his band for the reopening of Uncle Al's tacky juke joint and continues to put the make on dim Lou's dimmer wife Bridgette, whose baby Angina might be his flesh and blood; cigar-smoking Gwenda, living in sin with cigar-smoking Uncle Al, stalks him at all hours wanting to get married; low-rent mobster Tony Mandini threatens Lou with a beating from Gwenda's rowdy son Braxton if he doesn't pay back the money Tony loaned him so he could buy Bridgette that pink sofa. Lou can't pay, since he lost his job a year ago and hasn't told anyone. Sheriff Benton, Dumpster's fey upholder of law and order, reprimands soft-brained Earl for ringing the fire truck bell and interrupting his afternoon nap and reruns of Jeopardy; meanwhile, Earl may hold a million-dollar winning lottery ticket; preacher Ned Fertle sneaks circus peanuts and a stick of butter to augment the low-fat, no-salt, no-taste food his wife Mildred prepares for him since his rash of medical emergencies; then there's busty Chessie, Mandini's squeeze, who's aching for a grope even if she has to put someone's hands on her to start the process; and, of course, the gibberish-speaking Doc Moore, conducting blood tests to find out Angina's true papa, makes a cameo appearance to really confuse matters. Needless to say, the entire panoply of crazies is played by the talented trio of Vicki Farrell, Rich Mills and Steve Farrell, who also writes their incredibly hilarious scripts. A trip to Dumpster will do wonders for any ills that ail you. Through May 12. 2623 Colquitt, 713-522-7722.

Urinetown, the Musical On the surface, Urinetown, the Musical, Mark Hollman and Greg Kotis's Tony Award-winning comedic tour-de-force, does everything wrong: There's the utterly tasteless title, the bizarre premise that imagines a futuristic city where the citizens have to pay to pee and, of course, the fact that the show takes several well-directed jabs at the whole genre of Broadway musicals. Every show from Big River to Les Misérables gets a poke in this show. But somehow, all these elements add up to a wildly original parody that is a delight to behold, especially when the production is as good as the one now running at Main Street Theater. Director Ilich Guardiola proves his theatrical chops in just about every aspect of this production. His cast is perfect. Especially terrific is Kregg Alan Dailey as Officer Lockstock, the show's narrator. Dailey finds a perfect balance between biting irony and humor. As with all musicals, there's a romance between two young lovers, here played by Michael J. Ross and Alison Luff, a lovely pair of hysterically funny ingénues who sparkle with chemical fire. But since Urinetown is a parody, their big love follows an unpredictable, laugh-out-loud plot. The story, music, director and cast add up to one of the best musicals produced on any stage in Houston this year. Through January 27 at Main Street Theater, 4617 Montrose Blvd., 713-524-6706.

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