Theater Reviews: Regretrosexual, 1776 

Also, The Boychick Affair, Othello

Monday, Feb 25 2008

GO  THE BOYCHICK AFFAIR: THE BAR MITZVAH OF HARRY BOYCHICK Where's Harry? All the guests have arrived, but bar mitzvah boy Harry (Greg Mikurak) and his father, Aaron (Barry Papick), have gotten lost on their way to the temple. The pregnant New Age rabbi (Janice Markham) is in a dither, as is Harry's mother, Cheryl (writer-director Amy Lord). While cousin Soraii (Rebecca Silberman) "entertains" the waiting guests with off-key renditions of show tunes, man-hungry Grandma Betty (Sheila Oaks) goes on the prowl, as Aunt Rita (Cheryl David) gets an early start on the vodka. The wait for Harry allows the audience to mix freely with the actors in Lord's hilarious interactive comedy about a dysfunctional family. When the bar mitzvah boy finally arrives, we're treated to a rendition of Hebrew prayers set to a rap beat. Following the bar mitzvah, the audience is ushered into a ballroom to be entertained by the cheesy musical duo the Lizards (Sam Crouppen and Alissa-Nicole Koblentz), who succeed in getting most of the audience to dance. As the performance progresses, there is escalating verisimilitude — it becomes increasingly difficult to tell audience members from cast members, much to Lord's credit as writer and director. Lisa Clumeck's colorful costumes add humor to the show, with lots of visible bra straps and other fashion disasters. Hayworth Theater, 2509 Wilshire Blvd., Westlake; Sun., 2 p.m.; indef. (800) 838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com. (Sandra Ross)

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GO  CHICANO REHAB Y MAS The San Diego–based comedy troupe Teatro Izcalli scores high with earthy satirical skits that skewer and embrace Chicana/o stereotypes. A smarmy TV pitchman (Mike Slomanson) offers a "Chicano Kit" — complete with a 30-year anniversary MeCHA T-shirt — to a student (Jose Alvarez) whose peers think he is not Chicano enough. "Educacion" presents an old-school macho Mexican (Macedonio Arteaga Jr., channeling Tim Conway) trying to keep his feisty daughter (Iyari Arteaga) from attending USC. "Juan More Beer" offers a group of goofy activists enlisting the spirit of General Ignacio Zaragoza (Hector Villegas), hero of the 1862 victory over the French, against the commercialization of the Mexican holiday, Cinco de Mayo, commemorating that battle. And "Chicano Rehab," the best bit, dramatizes a 13-step session for zealous Chicanas/os led by a Frida Kahlo look-alike (Claudia Cuevas). There's a student (Iyari Arteaga) who may never graduate from college due to her political activism, a radical feminista (Alicia Chavez-Arteaga) whose outward belligerence belies a secret longing, and some other quirky folk. While written by Macedonio Arteaga Jr., the show credits no director, which is evident in some listless staging and the need for judicious editing. Nevertheless, Teatro Izcalli is terrific, even for the Spanglish-impaired. Casa 0101, 2009 E. First St., Boyle Heights; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 2. (323) 263-7684. (Marti­n Hernandez)

GO  L'EFFLEUR DES SENS means "flirting with the senses," and choreographer-director Cati Jean has MC Gregg guide us through this French-style cabaret that consists of nine fleshy, erotic dances performed by the host and a bevy of seven beauties with jaw-dropping precision. The girlie-magazine fantasies that the dances conjure border on the fetishistic, with jail-stripe thigh-highs and lingerie, cigarette smoke (in a city that bans puffing in clubs, so smoking has become something of a clandestine fantasy), legs that go all the way up, torsos that subtly sway while the doll-faced women bear expressions of calculated disinterest, or come-hither stares. One dancer cavorts behind a rope net; an aerialist hangs by her ankles from a swath of red silk. Gregg parades through the audience, goading men and women to tell their own fantasies. In the performance I attended, they did so, reluctantly. Gregg goaded them to be more explicit, which either got the job done (one woman admitted she wanted to be tied up and ravished) or led to understandable awkwardness. Though private anatomy remained concealed, private desires did not. The cabaret is a display of old-school sexuality, which is its point. Gregg's improvised humor borders on the puerile, but the dancers' physical dexterity, training and skill are beyond reproach. King King, 6555 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs., March 6 & 20, April 3 & 17, May 1, 15 & 29, 9 p.m. (323) 960-9234 or www.kingkinghollywood.com. (Steven Leigh Morris)

Apparently, you don't need to have seen Season 1 to jump into Andrea Sabesin's entertaining one-woman show. Sabesin wears cliche like a favorite sweater: A single, Jewish actress from Chicago by way of Memphis struggles to make it in Hollywood while enduring the toils of food service and a procession of childhood friends swallowed up by marriage and parenthood. However, where a lesser performer might zing and punch for the laughs, Sabesin finds new and interesting ways to extract gems from oft-mined material, usually because the details are just so strange — her food-service job isn't catering or waitressing, it's driving gourmet meals from restaurants to rich people; her gastroenterologist father likes to break into Sondheim; her pregnant friend carves out "together time" by dragging her to a pre-/postnatal yoga class. Also, her show style, under the direction of David Downs, is so earnest and welcoming, the overall effect is less like another one-woman show in Hollywood and more like hanging out with an exceptionally funny friend. ACME Comedy Theater, 135 N. La Brea Ave., Hlywd.; Tues., 8 p.m.; thru March 11. (323) 822-1146 or www.andreasabesin.com. (Luis Reyes)

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