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The Possession of Mrs. Jones

The off-the-wall dramatic universe of this loopy rock musical exists somewhere between John Waters' dicey 1950s suburbia and the civilizations of Sodom and Gomorrah. Many sequences sparkle with high-camp fun, courtesy of a delightfully over-the-top cast and Charles Herman-Wurmfeld's clever direction. Unfortunately, in its less lucid moments, D'Arcy Drollinger's book feels like a tower of babble. A fair share of gags land with a thud, and the premise and narrative need to dovetail more cohesively.

Issues of moral confusion and an iconoclastic view of religion appear to be the key satiric targets. Why else would God (David A. Kozen) and Satan (Keith Baker) join forces? They magically emerge from the glistening new washing machine of Betty Crocker housewife Mrs. Jones (Corinne Dekker) to pose a challenge. These adversaries have become allies in an effort to thwart the takeover of heaven and hell by a ruthless corporate conglomerate, and they want Mrs. Jones to help them. The repercussions include the Linda Blair–like possessions of Mrs. Jones' precocious teenage children (Beth Leckbee and Nora Miller in male drag), and the dramatic changes in Mrs. Jones' own character, much to the chagrin of her befuddled husband (Joey Sorge) and her blue-nosed Tupperware party cronies.

Most impressive among the adept farceurs are Kozen and Baker, who brazenly gobble up the scenery, having a field day with the snappy if fairly generic songs (lyrics by Drollinger, music by Drollinger and Ted Hamer). The entire cast is in tip-top form in delivering the tongue-in-cheek soft-shoe ditties and rousing rock numbers, bolstered by Tootsie Olan's energetic and witty choreography. Dekker is a hoot, playing a sitcom-style domestic matriarch with an edge. She handles household chores while sporting a Marlo Thomas hairdo, sparkling pearls, and high heels--a paragon of virtue, except for her penchant for popping Valium. Brett Glazer is devilishly funny as the gay delivery boy who falls in love with Mrs. Jones' demon-possessed son. As the local biddies, Karen Gordon and Kimberly Lewis are hilarious; Sorge is drolly humorous as the too-good-to-be-true hubby.

Production values are magnificent. Music director-arranger Hamer leads a fabulous three-piece combo. Mark Worthington's sets, Shauna Leone's costumes, and Max Pierson's lighting artfully combine stylized Eisenhower-era domesticity with op-art eccentricity. There's great promise in this daffy, irreverent romp, but the anarchic milieu depicted needs to be illuminated by less anarchic dramaturgy.

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