TALES FROM TRASHMANIA, at the College of DuPage Arts Center, Theatre 2. Bonnie Koloc is a former Chicago vocalist whose style and voice define musical authenticity and unforced honesty for her fans. But this quirky solo revue challenges even her power to charm. An "art-aretta" (whatever that means) that pushes whimsy to the vanishing point, Tales From Trashmania loosely incorporates 20 songs by Koloc and music director Howard Levy in a rather silly, sentimental story. Koloc imagines herself the sole survivor of a circus clan from Trashmania, a nomadic realm shaped like a violin that seems to have wandered off the map. Discovering a trunk left her by one of her many colorful aunts, Bonique Lu Kolocova pulls out the props and costumes that trigger her songs. Playing herself, the aunts, and the archangel-patron saint of Trashmania, Koloc regales us with cutesy tales of illustrious Kolocovas--a one-legged equestrian, a tightrope-walking opera singer, and Great Aunt Veronica and Her Razor-Backed Flealess Flying Peazles.
The songs are more rewarding than the setups, as Koloc lovingly croons the country-western "I Love You Waltz," the doo-wop novelty number "Crumbs in the Butter," and a heartfelt hymn to a dear dog, "Don't Go to Heaven Without Me." But her pure voice is muffled by undue miking, and a video distracts more than it delights. Koloc fans will forgive all, however--even the Trashmanian national anthem--for that warm and winning voice.