Finally, poor Britney Spears is getting help. This amusing but scattered musical by Molly Bell and Daya Curley occurs right after the incident in which Spears (the perfectly cast Bell) shaves her head.
With a moderator (Riette Burdick) overseeing her therapy, Spears relives her rise up the lowbrow ladder. All of her intimates — Kevin Federline and Justin Timberlake (Keith Pinto), Paris Hilton and Cameron Diaz (Carrie Madsen), Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lynn Spears (Alison Ewing) — make their expected appearances amid a lot of good comedy.
Indeed, when Becoming Britney goes into full-throttle satire, it can be terrific: Watch Bell sing "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" in that Spears-like nasal twang; watch Bell, in "Push It Out," simulate Spears giving birth. The pop star's inability to speak English ("Who are we interventin' today?") or to tell a Latina maid from an Irish maid, plus an Andrews Sisters-like song for Spears, Lohan, and Hilton, earn major hoots.
But the show's authors don't know what they want Becoming Britney to become. In one scene Spears is told she has to sing a song about what she wants because musicals require it — and that sends a metatheatrical red flag that comes out of nowhere and goes nowhere. Curley's direction is solid, but the choreography — by Mandy Bell, Lisa Navarro, and Bell — is overdone. And either we should sympathize with Spears or not, but not both. Why undercut such a dippy enterprise?
Presented by Endless Supply Productions as part of the New York International Fringe Festival at the Bleecker Street Theatre, 45 Bleecker St., NYC. Aug. 9-23. Remaining performances: Fri., Aug. 15, 9:45 p.m.; Tue., Aug. 19, 5:15 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 23, 2:30 p.m. (212) 279-4488 or (866) 468-7619 or www.fringenyc.org.