Linda Lovelace, star of Deep Throat, wrote four autobiographies that muddled, not clarified, her unusual life. In the first two, she was a nympho; the second two, a victim. In all, however, her husband, Chuck Traynor (here, played biliously by Jimmy Swan), is clearly a sleaze who lured her into prostitution. Anna Waronker and Charlotte Caffey’s dark and haunting musical, Lovelace: A Rock Opera, is antipimp, not antiporn, even though the two are inextricably linked. Ken Sawyer’s well-staged production is fated to descend into hellish reds and writhing bodies, yet it’s shot through with beauty and sometimes even hope. As Linda, Katrina Lenk is sensational — she has a dozen nuanced smiles that range from innocent and shattered to grateful, in order to express whatever passes as kindness when, say, a male co-star (Josh Greene) promises to make their scene fun. Waronker and Caffey were members of two major girl bands, That Dog and the Go-Go’s respectively, and their music — with its keyboards, cellos and thrumming guitars — has a pop catchiness that works even with the bleakest lyrics, some originally written by Jeffery Leonard Bowman. Though the facts of Lovelace’s past went with her and Traynor to the grave (both died within months of each other in 2002), there’s strong evidence that her life was even worse than the musical’s ending suggests, but it’s cathartic to watch her stand strong and sing of her hard-fought independence before flashing lights that, in ironic defiance of the play’s title, beam out her real name: Linda Boreman. Hayworth Theater, 2509 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through March 29. (323) 960-4442 or www.plays411.com.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: Oct. 18. Continues through March 29, 2008