Pretty damned funny stuff.
Epilogue Players is a little theater that quietly and, by and large, consistently puts out some remarkably good shows — even if you don’t take into consideration that tickets are a steal at only $12. And their season opener, Ruthless, is one of their best shows yet.
The musical is at once a spoof and homage to such shows as The Bad Seed, All About Eve and Gypsy. The story, set in 1958, begins with a ’50s housewife caricature, Judy (Rebecca DeVries-McConnell), who is mother to the “perfect” 8-year-old, Tina (Claire Cassidy). When talent manager Sylvia (Tobin Strader, in drag) sees Tina perform, she decides she must set Tina on the path to stardom. But a row over the title role in the school show, Pipi Goes to Tahiti, sets in motion dark and often hysterical mayhem.
Camp is the keyword for this show, and everyone in the cast (including young Cassidy and Emma Weber as her competition, Louise) throws themselves into the cheeky fun; director Rich Baker has them all partaking of the spirit of spoof. Vocal and music director Judy Grimes has the cast singing in perfect key, accompanied by (added bonus) live musicians.
DeVries-McConnell captures the essence of both the daft housewife and disturbed stage diva. But the real star of the show is Strader (who was also a standout as Gaston in Civic’s Disney’s Beauty and the Beast last December) in his flawless portrayal of Sylvia. He not only plays his part as a woman to a T, he imbues his multi-referential character with a solid personality — even in a pink frock that is every crossdresser’s dream.
Other participants partaking of the camp-fest include Christy Walker, Susan Boilek Smith and Sally Carter. Costuming is achieved to perfection by designer Jeff Farley, and the set — always a strong Epilogue asset — is lovely, thanks to a slew of people.
Catch Ruthless weekends through Sept. 23. The theater is located at 1849 Alabama St. Call 317-295-1961 for reservations, which are highly recommended, as this theater is often sold out."