When Jake Broder and Vanessa Claire Smith first assumed the roles of Louis Prima and Keely Smith in a recreation of their Las Vegas lounge act from the 1950s, it was a modest production at the Sacred Fools Company in Hollywood, but it won critical kudos and moved on for successful runs at the Matrix Theatre and the Geffen Playhouse. Now, they’ve ditched the script, keeping only the songs — a garland of show-stoppers, played by a terrific 7-piece band, each of whom gets his moment to shine. And Frank Sinatra (Luca Ellis) turns up to contribute suave song-stylings. But Broder and Smith are the real raison d’etre. Totally secure in their roles, they no longer need a script to play out the volatile, super-charged, love-hate relationship between Keely and Louis. He’s manic, stomping and careening around the stage like a demented jumping jack, subversive, hyper-competitive and glittering with resentment. She’s cucumber-cool and restrained, but quietly dangerous. And her coolness makes it more electrifying when she cuts loose with a brassy rendition of “That Old Black Magic.” This is a perfect holiday show, slick, scintillating, and just snarky enough to provide an antidote to icky-sticky Christmas shows on TV.

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 26, 3 p.m.; Thu., Dec. 31, 4 & 10 p.m. Starts: Dec. 19. Continues through Dec. 27, 2009

LA Weekly