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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

Game Cast adds Naughty Spice to Saucy Jack & the Space Vixens at Timberline Spirits

Also see David's review of Minding Our Manners

Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens
Jessica Skerritt, Janet Reasons and Kimberly Miller
What apparently wowed 'em at the 1995 Edinburgh Fringe Theatre Festival elicited a wow from me (as in what did the producers see in this material?), when I took in BS Production's version of Saucy Jack & the Space Vixens at Timberline Spirits on opening weekend. This hodgepodge of better (and worse) camp musicals such as Rocky Horror Show, Return To The Forbidden Planet, Starmites and Saturday Night Fever features an often incoherent book by Charlotte Mann, inept lyrics chock full of faux rhymes by Mann and Mike Fidler, and an innocuous but skimpy musical score by Robin Forrest, Jonathan Croose and Adam Meggido. The production program says the story is based on original ideas by Johanna Allitt, Simon Curtis, Mr. Fidler and Miss Mann, but trust me when I say there is not an original idea lurking within Saucy Jack.

What passes for the narrative in this musical is the tale of a "Slingback" serial killer run amok at a seedy cabaret, Saucy Jack's, on the planet Frottage III, which seems to be stuck in the disco era. Jack himself is a brooding and controlling ex-magician, surrounded by several employees and patrons of sexually ambiguous natures, with names like Sammy Sax, Mitch Maypole, Booby Shevale, Dr. Van Whackoff, and so forth. A "Charlie's Angels" like trio of space vixens/crimefighters are soon on the scene, including Jack's old flame, lead Vixen Jubilee Climax. Lesbian Space Vixen Bunny Lingus falls for the rough and tumble smuggler Chesty Prospects, but Chesty runs afoul of the killer (who impales his victims with spike heels) and, many mediocre songs later, the killer is caught, and love affairs and festish-ware conquer all to the pounding disco beat.

In the face of all this, and despite J. Stegar Thompson's sluggishly paced direction and inability to establish a specific tone or style of playing for his actors, the cast makes the two-hour tedium fest sometimes engaging, and certainly painless. Shining brightest is Jessica Skerritt as the dumb-bunny blonde vixen Anna Labia. Young Ms. Skerritt has the right comic touch and the ability to play this kind of camp sincerely (therby earning more laughs). Her bright vocal delivery and ease with choreography make her one to watch, on Seattle stages and beyond. Janet Reasons as Jubilee Climax also has strong vocal pipes, and conviction of character, while Kimberly Miller as Bunny Lingus puts over one of the better songs in the show, "Park My Bike," in tandem with the always likable Leilani Berinobis as Chesty Prospects. Berinobis also cameos to great comic effect as Chesty Prospect's county western doppleganger, just before the show's finale. Timothy Glynn as Saucy Jack is not ideally cast in a lead role that would ideally be played by the lovechild of Tim Curry and Tony Perkins, and his a little bit Scottish, a little bit Irish accent make many of his lines unintelligible. Glynn's strong vocals are most welcome however, and I really enjoyed his "Let's Make Magic" duet with Reasons.

Charles Crowley hams it up agreeably (in a manner reminiscent of vintage Tim Conway) as Dr. Van Whackoff and, along with Will Halsey's amiable Mitch Maypole, leads the company in the nearest thing the show has to a comic showstopper, "Fetish Number From Nowhere," which is also a highlight of Crystal Dawn Munkers' clean, energetic but often characterless choreography. As Sammy Sax, Jason Kappus plays a really mean saxophone, and this makes his character's wanting to move beyond the limited opportunities at Saucy Jack's genuinely believable. As the transgendered Booby, Ryan Patrick McCabe brings some pathos to his gaudily outfitted she-male persona, but aside from leading "All I Need is Disco" he has no real solo vocal showcase. The Space Vixens trio do a strong sell on their first, annoyingly catchy number, "Glitter Boots Saved My Life," and the ensemble really summons up its collective energies for the near-closing "Space Trucking" number.

Though Timberline Spirits is new to me, this is apparently the biggest show yet staged there, with worthy production elements, most notably Craig Wollam's sublimely cheesy space disco setting and director Thompson's sparkly, glamour meets white space trash costuming. Musical director Troy Wageman leads a spirited 4-piece band, but a better blend between the miking of the cast and the band's volume level would help matters considerably. David Misner's lighting is above par for a cabaret setting, as long as the cast gets a better grip on not wandering into the dark spots at the far ends of the stage.

Saucy Jack & the Space Vixens is far from the worst musical I have seen staged in Seattle, but with all the better show's out there, one hopes that BS Productions chooses something stronger for their next outing.

Saucy Jack & the Space Vixens runs through May 21 at Timberline Spirits, 1828 Yale Ave, Tickets: 206-325-6500 (Ticket Window).



- David-Edward Hughes



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