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Numbers Don't Lie...And Other Lies

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NUMBERS DON'T LIE...AND OTHER LIES, at the Ivanhoe Theater. You'd think there'd be a million interesting stories in the steel-and-glass towers of corporate America. Stories about greed, lust, envy, ego, stupidity--all essential elements in a well-run capitalist economy. But if there are great stories out there, they don't get told very often. Instead we get painfully stupid sitcoms like Working, kinda clever, kinda dumb cartoons like Dilbert, and Dino Biris's lame new musical, currently lumbering across the boards at the Ivanhoe.

According to the program, this is Biris's first effort at a full-length musical, and it shows. The score is forgettable, the characters are flat and uncompelling, and the story--about the hostile takeover of a family business--is totally uninteresting despite a mind-boggling array of last-minute complications. Biris and his coconspirators, songwriters Ken Johnson and Steve Zoloto and writer George Seegebrecht, successfully avoid every opportunity to deepen their characters or actually say something about American business in the 90s.

Instead Biris, who coproduced the show, tried to solve the project's myriad book and score problems by throwing a lot of money at the production, hiring name director Terry McCabe (not known for his work in musical theater) and lots of talented comic actors and singers (James Leaming, Ed Kross, Dawn Bach), none of whom has a ghost of a chance to make this turkey fly. Interestingly, the most annoying actor in the show--the hammy, unconvincing Seegebrecht--is not only coauthor but coproducer. Wonder how he got cast.

--Jack Helbig

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