Set designer Starlet Jacobs sets the stage with 40s memorabilia racks of vintage costumes adorn the playing area and a model of a USAF bomber hangs suspended from the proscenium arch. With waves of overlapping dialogue punctuated with sporadic moments of farce, playwright-director Andrew Moore variously hits his mark of hyper-realism in his depiction of burlesque performers in the midst of World War II. Though the locale isnt specified in the program, snippets of dialogue suggest a West Coast setting. While the burlesque act mostly remains offstage, what we see are the backstage comings and goings of the proprietress (April Adams); the dancers (Sylvia Anderson, Lauren Burns, Sarah Cook, Alana Dietze, Pamela Moore and Lauren Mutascio); the pianist (Jovial Kemp), who taps on a nonfunctioning spinet to recorded piano sounds; and a cartoon of a self-appointed guardian of decency (Judith Goldstein), whos like a Salvation Army officer out of Guys & Dolls. Moores story spins on the homecoming of wounded Marine Scotty (Seth Caskey), to his unfaithful STD-infected heartthrob, Helen (Moore, in a robust and sassy performance). Helen defines her independence as the right to leave her guy dangling emotionally, while dancer Ruby (Cook, in a gentle portrayal brimming with hidden desires) eventually makes her move on her colleagues man, while accepting a post with the WASP corps. Its unclear how the two women cat-fighting over a guy is an examination of womens freedom, however demure their fighting may be. That idea is best captured by Helens insistence on being her own person while stringing along her wounded suitor: Is this cruelty part of a burgeoning womens movement, or a subtle condemnation of it? Theres also a subplot of the puppy love between a semiblind youth (Bryan Gaston) and a teen apprentice (Mustascio), who replaces Ruby when the older dancer enlists in the military. The principals offer lovely performances, but this new play is a sometimes cutesy, sometimes romantic construction. Its larger insight into who we are, and where weve come from, has yet to be chiseled.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: Oct. 24. Continues through Nov. 23, 2008