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Theater: Singin' in the Ring

Forget Jesse Ventura: New York's first wrestling musical, already in production, is about a Hasid on a mission from God.

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Jesse Ventura may have been the first pro wrestler elected to statewide office, but he's not going to be the first immortalized in a glitzy musical, Broadway producer Pierre Cossette's plans notwithstanding. That honor will go instead to the fictional Mickey Blitzman, a.k.a. the Blitzkrieg Kid, whose story opens next month at One51.

The hunky Hasid wrestles with a higher purpose: He's on a mission from God, who appears early in the story (sporting an Afro and sideburns) to instruct Mickey to "work the good-and-evil angle." Things don't go as planned once he learns that -- gasp! -- the fights are fixed. "Mickey is the ultimate straight man," says Blitzkrieg playwright-director Ron Glucksman, 38. "God has spoken to him, and he's dedicated to fulfilling his mission -- even though God is kind of a hip-hop gangster."

The show's art director, Paris transplant Benoit Lafitte, has a distinctly Gallic take on this blend of divine inspiration and mass entertainment. "I was seduced by the show's deeper meaning," he says at the end of the first full-cast read-through. "It's Orson Welles crossed with Charlie Chaplin." The show unfolds as an overheated Borscht Belt burlesque -- complete with a chorus of semi-clad "Strumpettes," a wisecracking promoter with a vaguely Yiddish accent, and a sexually ambiguous villain who dabbles in Rohypnol. "Just like wrestling, it's old-fashioned blood-and-thunder theater," says Glucksman. "Only with more music and dancing." (The latter is more than just WWF moves and line kicks -- choreographer Rachel Murray is a member of Mark Morris's dance company.)

Blitzkrieg's actual wrestling connections are limited to an Antichrist figure named -- what else? -- Vince McMahon. But that may change. Last winter, Glucksman and some of his cast were in a SoHo deli, trading McMahon impersonations. "This really nicely dressed guy -- slicked-back hair, expensive suit -- was walking by the table," the playwright recalls. "He stopped dead and said, 'Did I hear you mention my boss's name?' Turns out he's WWF's senior vice-president for sales." The executive comped the thespians for a WWF spectacle, and Glucksman is looking for more: a loaner WWF wrestler or two, or at the very least a fight choreographer. With a Morris acolyte already in the picture, can the collaborative Hard Nut 2: The Santa Smackdown be far behind?


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