JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE JOURNEY, at Second City, Donny's Skybox Studio. A couple of things make this musical sketch-comedy show distinctive: the large cast of 15 and the fact that some of these folks can really belt. But despite some standout numbers, most of the material feels tired: a Telemundo sketch, a takeoff on the Judds that owes a lot to the old Jan Hooks/Nora Dunn "Sweeney Sisters" routines on Saturday Night Live, and the obligatory mad-cow-disease bit. The two strongest scenes play off the decidedly grim topic of trafficking in women; one shows a trio of desperate Russian gals trying to sell themselves as wives to American men over the Internet, and a rousing but disturbing number about polygamy in Utah combines sharp politics, astute lyrics, and gleeful vengeance. "Publicize Your Privates" gently pokes fun at self-revelation in the Vagina Monologues vein.
But director Brian Posen never develops a coherent through line for the show--which, according to press materials, focuses on "the forces that motivate each person's life." With such a large cast and such uneven material, it's nearly impossible for us to identify with any character in a way that might lift this revue above the scads of similar shows running rampant in these parts.