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Beaverquest! The Musical 

Thursday, Apr 10 2008
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Sacred Fools Theatre Company has made a spectacular return from an era of what company members have described as the dysfunction of yore. I’ve seen two of the shows there (of the four that are currently in production) over the past two weeks, including the troupe’s late-night contest, Serial Killers. Enthusiastic and largely young audiences packing the house to these mid-run shows are a fair indication of this organization’s health. Such a rebound is cause for optimism in an extremely arduous field. Padraic Duffy (book and lyrics) and Bobby Stapf’s (music) animated country musical parody, Beaverquest! The Musical, was conceived from the sketch-comedy format of Serial Killers, and has evolved into a lighthearted social satire, delivered entirely through nonsense-tinged allegory. A romance between the last Beaver in the area (Corey Klemow) and a domesticated male Bunny (Bryan Krasner in bunny suit, with the grandiloquence and vocal gravitas of James Earl Jones) becomes the gay-rights answer to Animal Farm. The evil Mayor (Alyssa Preston) doubles as a taxidermist, which explains where all the other beavers have gone. And yes, she does have a song called “I’ve Never Met a Beaver That I Didn’t Want to Stuff.” Poor Jack (Joe Fria, with the hypnotic ability to distort his body into subtle contortions) has to given up drinkin’ and his frequently aroused girlfriend, Petunia (Laura Eperrazza, with dazzling vocal skill), in order to be sheriff. The Mayor’s petting-zoo project is merely a ruse to snag the last living beaver. There are all kinds of dots that barely connect, despite which the allegory becomes weirdly moving in Act 2. One subplot involves a literary conflict of interest as one of three narrators, sweet Pepper (Emily Pennington), struggles not to enter the story as she falls for one of the characters. I still can’t determine how well all this hangs together, but it’s undeniably entrancing and deceptively superficial. Director Scott Leggett knows exactly what he’s doing, the stage movement is sharp, and the onstage band, situated in the back of an old Ford pickup truck, is terrific, under composer Heather Hopkins’ musical direction. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: March 28. Continues through May 3, 2008

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Reach the writer at smorris@laweekly.com

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