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Statuette (A Hollywood Musical)

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STATUETTE (A HOLLYWOOD MUSICAL), WNEP Theater. Hollywood is full of juicy, sleazy stories: sex scandals, mysterious deaths, careers destroyed. But you wouldn't know it from WNEP's new show, a dreary two-and-a-half-hour musical based on John Kane's novel about five actresses vying for an Oscar.

Kane's 1998 Best Actress is out of print, but judging by the reviews at Amazon.com, it was as spicy as a Jacqueline Susann novel. In Dave Stinton's stage version, however, the most interesting character is a wimpy closet lesbian. Her dilemma--hiding her sexuality--seems if not trivial then old-fashioned. The second most interesting character, a sexy starlet, has a dark past that might have saved this flagging script if only her secret had been revealed an hour or two earlier. But it's saved for the end, when we no longer care.

The show screams out to be camped up, but director Don Hall plays it straighter than George W. Bush and gets fewer laughs. It doesn't help that his cast walk through the script like kids being dragged to school--there's nothing playful or inspired about their performances. Bigger problems are the lack of a musical director, a mediocre score (music by Jeffrey Hepker, lyrics by Stinton), and a cast full of nonsingers who turn even the more interesting songs into a soporific drone.

-- Jack Helbig

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