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THE DAYS WHEN COCAINE WAS KING

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Writer/director John J. Fanelli's mind-numbing "musical" is so appallingly bad on so many levels it's hard to know where to begin. But let's be clear about one thing: This isn't the Mommie Dearest so-bad-it-becomes-campy-fun kind of bad; this is the truly-awful, what-in-the-hell-were-they-thinking?, I-want-my-two-hours-back kind of bad. Clearly written for the Beavis and Butt-head crowd, it is the story of an aging rock band called The Larrys, still stuck in the dregs of the 1970s, when they began. At a 25-year anniversary celebration, the band's idiotic leader, Ro Chambeaux (Josh Thorpe) reminisces about the days when he and his three band mates—Sketch Noonan, Spank Dangler, and Johnny Viagra (the names, unfortunately, have not been changed; presumably they are playing themselves)—were first getting started. Younger versions of themselves play out scenes from the past, which are centered, of course, on sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, as the band plays on … and on.

Big thanks are due to whomever handled sound issues (uncredited). That the sound was so distorted as to make the lyrics undecipherable much of the time was a blessing indeed, considering the few tidbits that did manage to come through ("I'll have a bend-over taco/I'll scorch you with my hot sauce…"). Song titles such as "I'm in Love (With a Bitch I Can't Stand)," "Larrys Bad Kung Fu Theatre," and "Two Parts Angel (One Part Skank)" should offer enough of a clue as to what was missed. The Larrys are credited with all the trashy music/lyrics, which collectively, as my guest (who left at intermission) put it, "Sounds like a bad soundtrack to a bad porn flick." Jyothi Doughman's costumes and Tania L. Pearson's choreography meet equally low standards.

It's evident that some talent and a fair amount of money went into this production, which is all the more disturbing. With the performing arts in such a financial crisis, perhaps the most distressing aspect of the show is that so much time and resources were wasted on something so glaringly—and cheerfully—tasteless and vulgar.

"The Days When Cocaine Was King," presented by Stage Music Productions at the American Renegade Theatre, 11138 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. Thu.-Fri. 8 p.m., Sat. 8 & 10:30 p.m. Apr. 23-May 29. $20. (800) 595-4849.

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