Writer-director Jena Friedman's premise is promising: in her parody of the feel-good American Girls Revue, she replaces trendy American Girl dolls, all taken from U.S. history, with dolls representing refugees from Chernobyl, Darfur, and Indonesia's tsunami. But this late-night show, with music and lyrics by Friedman and Boaz Reisman, is dull, the execution clunky, the singing often shaky. Aside from a few well-aimed barbs at President Bush and the U.S. presence in Iraq, the show consists of a series of trite life lessons the club members, all first-generation Americans, learn from each beloved doll's hardships. The commentary isn't pointed enough to overcome lackluster singing and acting on a crowded stage in service of a preachy message.
--Jenn Goddu a Through 8/11: Sat 10:30 PM, Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln, 773-935-6100, $10-$20.