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LA Theater Review

Forever: The Musical

There's not a children's library in the nation whose shelves don't groan beneath the stacks of turgid books by Judy Blume, the renowned (or notorious) author beloved by voracious armies of post-pubescent teenage girls. Many of Blume's most "classic" works are anchored in the 1970s context they came from -- and the combination of "free to be, you and me" swinger philosophy with a seething ocean of pimply tweener hormones is fecund enough to provide hilarious material for playwright-director Gerald McClanahan's drolly snarky musical spoof.

Katherine (Bailee DesRocher) is a typical teenage girl, living in the free-spirited 1970s. Like many other girls today, she dreams of finding the perfect man who will take her virginity and love her "forever." Unlike the girls of today, though, she wears ginormous bell-bottoms and keeps her hair in a feathery flip-floppy 'do that would have Farrah Fawcett gnashing her teeth in envy.

Katherine has her eye on burly class stud Michael (Chase Sprague), whom she thinks would be the perfect candidate for that Special Moment in Which a Girl Becomes a Woman. However, Katherine's hipster parents (Carla Jo Bailey and Drew Droege), on their way out to their regularly scheduled key party, just wish their daughter would loosen up.

The goings-on are interspersed with heartfelt renditions of all those horrific 1970s songs we all say we hate but secretly think are the total bomb: DesRocher and Sprague's rendition of the cornball classic "Feelings" is a delight, for instance, as is a fierce production number of the cheese-ball hit "Having My Baby."

McClanahan's production is steeped in a gorgeously depicted 1970s backdrop full of fondue pots, eight-track tapes, and references to Plato's Retreat, but the nostalgic tone is handled with equal parts ridicule and affection. Although the script suffers from a few narrative lapses that are certainly the fault of the original, rather flat, story, the ensemble's deadpan delivery sets up a variety of hilarious situations. DesRocher's bubbly adolescent is a stitch, and so is Sprague's anything-but-sexy turn as Katherine's galumph of a boyfriend. However, Bailey's and Droege's wondrously creepy performances as Katherine's swingin' parents steal the show every moment they're on stage.

Presented by and at the Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Dr., Hollywood.

Feb. 5–28. Thu., 8 p.m. (Feb. 5 and 12); Fri.–Sat., 8 p.m. (Feb. 27–28). (310) 281-8337 or Sacred Fools Theater.

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