The end of summer means one more loopy, annual installment of the series from Infernal Bridegroom Productions. Happily, Tamalalia 6 is as zany as it gets. We find our heroine Tamarie Cooper (who also directs, choreographs, and co-writes the show) in an element all her own -- a 1930s speakeasy where the booze bubbles and the broads crack wise, all to the beat of an original score by the Infernal Bridegroom Orchestra.
As owner of said speakeasy, Cooper finds herself in all sorts of hot water. First there's trouble in love. In an hysterical allusion to Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, Tamarie sings about her ill-fated love for a Spanish matador, who stomps about followed by a chorus of tap-dancing bulls dressed in red crinoline petticoats.
It isn't long before the gangsters arrive. The worst is Butch Knuckles (Andy Nelson, who is also a co-writer). Though he tries to gain sympathy when he and his cronies sing "The Gangsters' Lament" about how "nobody loves" him, it's clear he's up to no good and just wants to take over the club. He remembers Tamarie's earlier days and bullies her into donning her one-man -- er, woman -- band get-up. Underneath it all he's nothing more than a wet noodle. He turns yellow- bellied when the coppers raid the place.
Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway
Through September 6. $15-$20. For more information, call 713-52-STAGE.
"McMuzzle's Raid" exemplifies what makes the Tamalalia series so unique and so familiar all at once. Riffing off everything from the Keystone Cops to I Love Lucy, the cast runs madcap through the audience and back again as the band plays on. The tone is so joyously adolescent you can't help but laugh, even though nothing that happens is really that surprising.
Two songs make the most of the wry sardonic wit that IBP does so well. In "The Lover's Rhapsodee" an amorous couple waxes sweetly on while the rest of the cast slow-motion fights with each other in the background. Also hysterical is "Ladies Temperance League" featuring three "Broads" (Keith Reynolds, Richard Jason Lyders-Gustafson and DeWitt Gravink; a trio dressed in drag), who work for the "First Auxiliary, Seventh Chapter, Ladies Temperance League." Done up in gray and black, the old prudes try in vain to have their way with Tamarie's speakeasy.
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You'll have to see the show to find out what happens to her good-time place. Suffice it to say that in the end everyone, audience included, is invited in for a drink. And of course, we can't wait to see what Tamarie and friends will be up to next year.