There's no doubt Lauri Fraser has a winning, infectious personality and a singularly unique voice to validate her ongoing career in voiceover work. It's not difficult to picture her working on clients' hair in this Beverly Hills salon setting and imagine how many times customers and co-workers told her she should do a one-person show, with all those voices and characters inside her bursting to get out. It's a great idea and a worthy effort, but to create a one-person show—or any show—one needs more than a bubbly personality and the ability to mime her customers' glaring eccentricities. Although nicely showcasing her considerable talents, what Fraser has fashioned is not only not a musical, it's not much of a play, either.
The problem is, there's no conflict in her story besides her agony over how she's going to tell her longtime regulars this is her last day at the salon, as she's biting the bullet to make her acting career a full-time effort. Focusing mainly on one hot-blooded Latino manicurist and three quirky customers—a crusty Beverly Hills realtor who doesn't "do Beverly Hills adjacent," a neurotic divorcée who asks everyone at the shop if their breasts are real, and a woebegone nerd who feels she and her hair are not getting Fraser's full attention—once the characters are established, there's not much left to generate care about their opinions or reactions to the announcement of their stylist's early retirement. Yet with an ex-husband left respectfully in the shadows ("We went our separate ways.… I went to Al-Anon, and he went to prison," she tells us but never explains), it's surprising Fraser or her director, Myrna Gawryn, didn't think to explore the story's more juicy possibilities for dramatic departure from the obvious.
Were I casting voiceovers, I would hire Fraser in a heartbeat, and, if that is truly what the performer set out to accomplish by telling her tale of interrupted phone calls and the entitlement issues hounding a few of Beverly Hill's more desperate housewives, she has done a fine job. If she intended to do more, there's still time for a makeover.
"Hair…Not the Musical," presented by and at the Empty Stage Theatre, 2372 Veteran Ave., West L.A. Sun. 7 p.m. Aug. 28-Oct. 16. $15. (323) 960-7612.