Zelda's Super Happy Fun Show: Introducing the Musical Misbeats | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Zelda's Super Happy Fun Show: Introducing the Musical Misbeats


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ZELDA'S SUPER HAPPY FUN SHOW: INTRODUCING THE MUSICAL MISBEATS, Tingel-Tangel Theatre, at Wing & Groove Theatre. This musical escapade by writer-performer Juliet Schaefer borrows liberally from Saturday Night Live's vocal stylists of questionable talent who reinterpret popular songs (the Sweeney sisters, the Culps). Schaefer stars as Zelda, a refugee from the fictional eastern European country of Heinzelmachia. When it clicks, this hour-long series of songs, sight gags, and dance numbers will delight any lover of camp, offering Tammy Wynette's "Stand by Your Man" as an accordion-accompanied dirge, Billy Idol's "White Wedding" as a high-stepping musical number, and the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" as a spoken-word performance to bongo accompaniment. There's even a peculiar puppet show that cheerfully infuses the story of a war-torn nation with a Mister Rogers innocence.

The problem is that this sequel of sorts to last year's Franz and Zelda's Happy Time Cabaret Hour isn't really funny. Too many uninspired jokes and flatline improvisations overwhelm the joyful moments. The show needs more bits like the Go-Go's "Vacation" as a torch song, fewer down-tempo numbers, and less insipid banter rendered in bad imitations of heavily accented English.

Only two cast members impress. Dressed in boas and a black gown with a deep slit, Schaefer has a wonderfully evocative voice. And as a pansy cowboy backup singer, sweet-faced Seth Swink is all legs and smiles.

--Erik Piepenburg

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