LOST IN HOLLYWOODLAND OR THE SLUGWOMAN FROM URANUS.
nytheatre.com review by Chris Harcum
August 10, 2007
A young wannabe Hollywood player makes a deal with the devil and winds up in B-movie hell in this send-up of many musical things found on the Planet of Broken Dreams. This two-reeler features seven plucky "movie" musical theatre pros and is underscored on an upright piano like an old black-and-white come to life. The selling of souls, plagiarizing of journals to make schlock films, murder at the food service table, and the addiction of fame all make cameos in this comedy from L.A.'s Inka Dinka Inc.
The performances are the true star of this vehicle. The verve and singing in this show transcend the charmingly ultra-fringy cafetorium space at Our Lady of Pompeii. Scott Bridges adds enough flavors to keep his leading man from ever being vanilla. Molly Alvarez is delightful where other ingénues might be cloying. Joseph Corri and Beau Hirshfield's evil henchmen are a seamless double act. Alex Wexler brings graciousness to his malice as Malatoff Dyablik, the malapropism-wielding taker of souls. Tamara Zook channels a new character type: the femme fatale grande dame. Jesse Merlin's turn as a Shakespearean has-been gone Hollywood takes the statue for the night. Equally silly and refined, he hits the highest note of truth and humor when he quips, "We are all stars trying to work our way back into the chorus." Bill Parsley's work on the score and Jonathan Dinerstein's piano playing are always spot-on without overpowering the action.
Dan Olivero's direction is light and crisp and is complimented by Diana Wyenn's spirited choreography. They swipe and cross-fade scenes in front of Chris Covics's protean backdrop screens. Wexler's book and lyrics pick up steam in the second act, which is a rarity in this genre. That is when the worlds he has created begin to swirl together and reveal the true potential for this piece. "How in the Hell Did This Happen" is the number of the night. The appearance of the eponymous Slugwoman in the slapdash sci-fi flick within the play is gold.
As an indictment of the soullessness of LalaLand, this piece is a little lost. With a liposuctioned first act and a camp knob cranked to eleven (it could go further if it were set in the '50s or '70s rather than the sort-of present where it currently resides), Lost in Hollywoodland could join Rocky Horror or Vampire Lesbians of Sodom in the cult faves section. Or maybe New World Stages could scout this little honey before she signs on with some other studio. Grab your popcorn and check out this summer musical.