B y J a n a R i v e r a
STRAY THEATRE'S NEW musical Wigged Out raises the question: Why does it take two and a half hours to tell a story that's been told so many times it could be recapped in about 10 minutes? Or at least cut down to a bearable hour and a half.
A woman in southern, small-town America is about to lose her beauty salon because the big, mean bank is going to foreclose. Of course she's relying on her husband to help her 'cause, shucks, she just can't worry her pretty, boofey little head with such things. But her husband, being a sleazy, small-time politician and sexist pig, is only looking out for himself and his campaign-for-mayor-of-Catfish-Caverns fund.
Depending on Golden Fleece Salon owner, Cat, to keep their little lives afloat are Taylor, recovering alcoholic/slut turned spiritual mother; Roy, gay cowboy; Cookie, town party girl; and Val, miserable single mother. Sharon, dominated wife of the police chief, another fat sexist pig, soon joins the group and, gee, how did we guess, becomes a liberated woman. Not an original in the bunch.
To make a way-too-long story short, the oppressed group at the beauty salon finds empowerment, stands up against their oppressors and saves the salon. Surprise! Surprise!
But, you say, it's a musical. Who cares about the plot if the music is good. Well, the music isn't bad, but it's nothing to sing about either. Although a few cast members can belt it out, particularly Lisa Wolf who plays Val, the music and lyrics with a country twang by Robert Hartmann run together in one forgettable tune after another.
But, if you're not ready to give up yet, how about the writing? An old story with mediocre music can certainly be carried by sharp, clever lines with plenty of wit. Sorry. Unless you find humor in lines like, "Caffeine can interfere with harmonic vibrations," delivered by a deep-breathing, new-age mother, the script by Elise Forier will also disappoint. Not only is each situation predictable, but Forier insists on first telling us what the characters are going to do before they actually do it. It's like sitting through it three times over. How about a little suspense?
Acting? Singing? Anything? Okay. The cast members, which in addition to Wolf include Anne Butman, Amy Cannon, Timothy Koch, David Orley, Jennifer Rossiter-Nelson, Arlene Toohey and Michael F. Woodson, act and sing their little, pea-pickin' hearts out. All are competent, experienced actors who muster energetic performances and succeed in giving the weak, tired material a better showing than it deserves.
CUTLINE: Wigged Out, based on a story by Karinn Hamill, is directed and choreographed by James R. Taulli, with musical direction and arrangements by Lisa Lemay.
Stray Theatre's production of Wigged Out continues with performances Wednesday through Sunday through July 30 at the Tucson Center for the Performing Arts, 408 S. Sixth Ave. Tickets are $14, with discounts for children, students and seniors, available at Dillard's and the Arizona Theatre Company box office. For reservations call 622-2823.
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