If you're a fan of musicals, you must trot, high kick, or shuffle-ball-change over to Ovations to experience Masquerade's latest cabaret revue, Gerald Alessandrini's wicked parody of all things Broadway-belted. You have to move fast because this show plays in a limited run only through Saturday. What a wonderful present for all those show queens out there -- and I know you're there, I can hear you humming "Oklahoma."
Parodist sublime, Alessandrini fashioned his successful franchise back in 1982 for Palsson's Supper Club in Manhattan. He used the reigning musicals of the time with their sacred cow performers and set the show tunes to new lyrics that skewered the show and the divas who performed in them. The show was such a hit that the original, and then multiple variations on it, have played almost continuously ever since. While his satire is biting and oh, so true, Alessandrini loves Broadway musicals, and his sharp tongue is his caustic way of paying tribute to the power of musicals to transcend the obvious ego star trips that make the Broadway musical what it is. The show might be dipped in acid, but it's really a valentine.
Although this is the ultimate insider's guide to Broadway, the subjects of the screwing are pretty much household brand names. If you don't know about theater legend Carol Channing and her countless revivals of Hello, Dolly, or you can't recognize Ethel Merman and her big, loud voice, or you've never seen Cats or Les Mis -- you're on your own! Otherwise, this show is pure catnip for musical mavens.
Who better than The Masquerade Theatre to mount such a beguiling production that, except for a few background projections from Eric Shell, slick dance moves by Laura Babbitt, and some sly costumes by Diana Lerez, all under the direction of Masquerade veteran Michael J. Ross, relies solely on the talents of the performers. These guys and dolls are terrific!
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The sextet, all younger members of the company, have greasepaint in their veins for sure. Marco Camacho, Katie Curry, Lendsey Kersey, Chris Martin, Cole Ryden, and Kim Truncale work together as if they've been on the road for months polishing the material. Eager and ultra-talented, they hit every one of Alessandrini's sly curve balls over the fence. The evening is a grab bag of musical goodies, each one a showstopper: the above-mentioned Miss Channing (a divine Kim Truncale in red sequined Dolly dress with lipstick up to her eyebrows), the requisite Sondheim parody ("Into the Words"), a deftly wicked satire of Wicked (thanks to the leather lungs and comic timing of Lindsey Kersey, who will show up later as a daft Barbra Streisand), a Les Miserables satire to end them all (with "It's Too High" sung by Chris Martin to mock "Bring Him Home"). There's even a tribute, of sorts, to Broadway leading man Mandy Patinkin ("Somewhat Overindulgent"), savored nicely and pickled in ham by Marco Camacho. Phantom and Cats, naturally, get perfectly barbecued by Cole Ryden with "Mucous of the Night" and "I Enjoy Being a Cat," while Katie Curry keeps up the high spirits with spoofs from A Chorus Line, Chicago, and, again, Les Mis ("On My Phone").
For anyone with a sweet tooth for Broadway musicals, this is sugar from the gods. Quick, put your hand in the cookie jar. Go, go, go!
Masquerade Theatre's lively and laugh-a-second musical parody runs only through December 17 at Ovations, 2536 Times Blvd. Buy tickets online at www.masqueradetheatre.com or call 713-861-7045.