Arts & Culture » Performing Arts Review

Warfield, USA

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The fringe-festival circuit is littered with this type of prefab musical, long on promise and short on execution, a model of misdirected energy and effort. The story in Warfield, USA--a war-torn town dabbles in diplomacy with disastrous results--is fine, but Jazz Hands Across America's first scripted effort is monochromatic and punchless. Director Michael Descoteaux and the company milk the three or four obvious jokes about America's bloodlust and unilateral foreign policy for all they're worth, but the songs and incidental music that should hold the story together never really jell. And characterization is minimal, unless names like "Rex Ruthor" and "Fondoleezza Twice" (repeated ad infinitum) tickle your inner Beavis or Butt-head. On completely improvised programs, Jazz Hands Across America has proven itself capable of doing much more with much less and, depressingly enough, with far greater consistency. Through 7/20: Wed 8:30 PM. Second City E.T.C., Piper's Alley, 1608 N. Wells, 312-337-3992 or 877-778-4707. $5.

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