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Talk Show Confidential

Presented by Laura Penney at the Triad Theatre, 158 W. 72 St., NYC. Opened Jan. 19 for an open run (Mondays only).

It stands to reason that after many years as a leading talk-show host, Bill Boggs would be a terrific conversationalist. He brings those skills to this almost one-man show (bass player Mike Lee sits in during one scene and is on stage with pianist Tony DeSare, the musical director, throughout). Boggs recounts entertaining anecdotes about his interactions with the stars he has interviewed. There is another character on stage, the television set itself, broadcasting moments with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Martha Stewart, and other celebs. It is indeed interesting to hear weightlifter Arnold declare his intention to become a top movie star, among many other moments.

Boggs' delivery is down to earth, as if he's talking one on one at a party. His ongoing love of showbiz and his awe at being with the stars shine through. He admits as much and urges all to follow their dreams. This is fun and inspirational.

The backstage gossip includes bloopers, such as the time Boggs fell asleep while interviewing a boring suburban dentist. Boggs' imitation of the dentist's hypnotic, sleep-inducing voice and comments is one of the show's funniest parts. It's also the best instance of Boggs portraying someone else during the course of his anecdotes. The show's only flaw is almost inevitable: At times there is a bit too much of an "and then I wrote" tone. Boggs is so enamored of talk shows that the peril of something going wrong seems to be equated with life's worst disasters.

But this is minor. After all, the show never claims to seek to solve the world's problems. As directed by Jeffrey B. Moss, it moves smoothly from monologue to clips to the distribution of blueberry pies, which played a major role in Boggs' career path. We won't give the story away. The pie was good and the show was fun.

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