Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Not Just for Lesbians!

"The Amazing Amazon All-Stars," the final play in Upstart Performing Ensemble's Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival is without a doubt the best lesbian baseball musical comedy that you're ever likely to see. And Wednesday night's preview was a lot more fun than watching game 1 of the World Series, at least if you were rooting for the Rockies.

But more than that, it's a charming and interesting piece, despite many rough edges. The main storyline is Kelly's progress from a half-life, drifting along in fantasies, to a real life, living in the world. There are also several sub-plots, both romantic and post-romantic.

Playwright/lyricist Carolyn Gage must have worn out her copy of The Big Book of Sexual Innuendo, but she used it to good effect: The lyrics, though raunchy, are often clever. And Sue Carney's music, ably arranged, performed and recorded by Micah River Saddler, isn't bad either, though it won't make anyone forget "Damn Yankees." There just isn't quite enough of it, well enough integrated into the story, to make this seem like musical theater instead of a play with a bunch of songs in it.

Among the best performances in the 10-woman cast are Mary Maxine Fortner as Kelly (Fortner makes being narcissistically self-engrossed seem like a sheer delight); Sue Bachman as the aging, alcoholic Ruth, still bitter about her breakup with the team's manager, Hitch (okay, it's not all comedy); and the ethereal Nicole Benton as the mistress of ceremonies. It's a privilege to hear the silky-voiced Benton sing.

The cast's pleasant surprise is Kim Templin as the skanky Slide. Templin shows great presence in her first acting role since childhood.

While the performance is fairly bare bones, costumes are used to good comic effect, and Nancy Hankin has provided some nice lighting effects – important in a piece that depends on fantasies for much of its humor.

Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Smokebrush Foundation, 218 W. Colorado Avenue (underneath the Colorado Avenue bridge). Call 636-5089 for more information.


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