SPIN CYCLE...A MUSICAL IN TWO LOADS, Phoenix Ascending Theatre. There's nothing profound or earth-shattering about Rick Karlin and the late Frank DePaul's sweet, homegrown musical about four young people looking for love in Chicago. The lyrics are good without being great, the tunes nice but forgettable, and the story--about two boyfriend-hungry Lakeview women who find themselves drawn to gay men--might suit a sitcom like Will & Grace.
This plot may have been mildly titillating in 1981, when the show enjoyed a modest success at the Theatre Building, but a lot has changed in 20 years. Today audiences quickly understand--and don't much care--that nice girl Katie (Megan Van De Hey) and hopelessly horny Phyllis (Tracy Repep) have both fallen for gay guys. And the show feels a good 45 minutes too long, partly because an annoying homeless woman interrupts the action every ten minutes or so to sing or tell us a story. I suppose these moments are meant as dramatic counterpoint to the main plot, but Karlin and DePaul have such a sentimental view of homeless women as daffy but wise and Lori Lee's portrayal is so over-the-top that the character quickly overstays her welcome.
Still, Spin Cycle retains some warmth and charm. The characters are likable and real. And even when they do silly things--Phyllis almost marries a closeted lothario who has no intention of giving up his cruising ways--Karlin and DePaul refrain from mocking them. --Jack Helbig