Theater Review | Thru Dec. 20/21 Theatre on the Square is reviving its classics this season and it wouldn"t be complete without artistic director Ron Spencer sporting a dress. Part of the Film Noir series, The Bad Seed is a parody of the old black and white movie, with Spencer portraying the 8-year-old serial killer, Rhoda.
Ron Spencer as the little murderess Rhoda in TOTS" "The Bad Seed"
If you haven"t seen the movie, do so before seeing the show. The humor won"t make quite as much sense without the background. The characters, such as the perpetually vacuous mother, would seem shallow if you hadn"t seen the original film, which is played perfectly straight. I, having seen the movie, can tell you that most of the cast hit their stereotypical characters dead-on (pun intended). Notable was Dave Butts, who captured the smarmy janitor, Leroy, perfectly. Much of the dialogue is taken straight from the original script, with altered delivery for comic effect and sight gags incorporated to achieve the spoof feel that is the point of the show. Opening night, there were more flubs than would normally be forgiven, but apparently Saturday"s show went smashingly well, so with more runs under their crinolines, the cast should gel as the run continues. Everything is drenched in shades of gray/black/white - including the cast"s faces and hands - to bring out the B&W atmosphere of the movie and giving the scenes a macabre feel. Spencer, however, enters decked out in a red dress and vibrant blond pigtails, the only child "in color" at the picnic where Rhoda"s latest victim is murdered. Some of the material works, such as upstairs-neighbor Monica"s (Germaine LaPorte) theory regarding her brother Emory"s (Jeff Hamilton) latent homosexuality - Monica being an amateur Freudian - which was not in the movie. And the Bobbit-esque paperdolls and morbid bedtime stories! Some scenes aren"t as effective, such as the oddly punctuated delivery of a dialogue between Rhoda"s mother (Robin Peet) and Rhoda"s teacher (Linda Charbonneau). Overall, though, even seeing the show on an off night, I found the whole thing entertaining in a twisted sort of way. Toward the end, the cast got a bit flippant, with Spencer throwing in some improvised commentary about a lost prop and spilled pills, which, I have to admit, got some of the best laughs from the audience. Maybe, in a production like this, a go-with-the-flow attitude isn"t such a bad idea. The Bad Seed, directed by Rockland Mers, continues through Dec. 21. Call 637-8085 for tickets. Fire! More spoofing is going on at the ComedySportz Arena. Woody Rau and Steven Murphy took Rau"s hysterical redneck Christmas show, Santa Is Dead, and morphed it into a musical. The premise remains: God is disgusted by the state of humanity, embodied in the greasy character Dwayne (Ed Trout), and calls for the second coming of Christ. She (yes, God is a she here) strikes a deal with the alcoholic angel Jimmy (Michael Chowning): If Jimmy can get Dwayne to do one selfless thing by Christmas, the Second Coming will be called off. And, by the way, the chosen vessel for the coming happens to be a pre-op transsexual (Amy Szczepantak) who almost got dumped for her inability to bear children by her boyfriend (Cameron Gorbett). Irreverent, yes. Funny as hell, yes. Rau hit gold with the cast, especially Ashley Hamman as Arleen, Dwayne"s ex-stripper wife. Not only do she and her best friend Barbie (Brooke Boots) make a wonderfully trashy trailer duo, but Hamman has the best song in the show, "I Remember." Slightly fleshed out and altered somewhat from the original script, the show isn"t necessarily a good musical - most of the songs don"t really take us anywhere - but the pure cheese factor makes it funny, like a B-grade cult fave movie. And it can poke fun at itself, like when Dwayne hollers out, "No singin" goddamnit, I just did a song!" I say all this in a strange form of praise. Fire at the North Pole continues through Dec. 20; call 951-8499 for tickets.