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LA Theater Review

Nymphony in 12-D

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Nymphony in 12-D

It's not easy to write a two-act musical in which the characters never (well, hardly ever) exhibit any sign of recognizable human behavior, but writer-composer Gib Wallis pulls it off in this inane farce, set in Manhattan's Ansonia Hotel.

Brick (Rusty Hamrick) is a gay singer whose career has been limited to performing, in drag and falsetto, the title role in the Spanish zarzuela The Bearded Lady of Guadalajara. His apartment is also occupied by an annoying nymph -- apparently a nymph is a muse with nymphomaniac tendencies -- named Marge (Beth Whitney). She tries to seduce Brick when she isn't urging him to achieve greatness by singing in his natural voice. Meanwhile, Brick's petulant lover, Michael (James Gaudioso), always afflicted with the vapors, is determined to get it on with Brick in his shower. Despite his drag performances, Brick is deeply closeted, living in terror of being outed by Opera News, so their assignation must be secret. This proves hard to manage when the premises are further invaded by Doug (Barrett Kime), a singer from next door who comes to borrow the shower, and Pfeiffer (Mercy Malick), the daffy horticulturist who tends the Ansonia's plants. Mistaken identities, misunderstandings, and confusions prevail, everybody running around draped in towels and/or sporting bare chests. And, as is usual in these so-called sex comedies, there is not a jot of genuine sexual passion or feeling.

There are a few funny gags and amusing moments, but the action is so devoid of rhyme or reason that it quickly grows tedious. The six songs are not memorable but provide welcome respite from the dialogue.

The actors are engaging and can hardly be blamed if they can't bring credibility to a lame script. Hamrick struggles valiantly with an improbable role, Whitney is strident in an impossible one, Malick is an able farceur, and Gaudioso strives mightily as an emotionally fraught gay cliché. Kime fares best, in the only role that is marginally coherent, offering a nice physique and voice and considerable charm.

Presented by Playwrights 6 at the Meta Theatre,

7801 Melrose Ave., L.A.

Sat. 8 p.m. Sun. 7 p.m. (Except Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m. Jun. 20 -21.) May 17-Jun. 21.

(323) 860-6625. www.playwrights6.org.

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