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"Dirty Blonde"

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Dirty Blonde, in case you are not a scholar of Mae Western civilization, is the title song of this show about Mae West and also what may have been her original hair color, and a précis of her stage-and-screen personality. Claudia Shear has had the whimsical idea to write a play about two zhlubby fans who meet on a Mae West birthday at her grave. Charlie is a film librarian, and Jo is a temp with stage ambitions burning dim.

I don't know if there is a model for Charlie, who at 17 made a pilgrimage to Hollywood to meet Mae. But Jo is clearly modeled on Claudia Shear herself. The play combines supposed episodes from West's life with incidents from the lives of the pair of ardent fans. Shear enacts Mae and Jo, Kevin Chamberlin is Charlie and a number of other men, and Bob Stillman does the remaining others. There is also a frolicsome piano, scanty scenery by (again) Douglas Stein, and jaunty costuming by Susan Hilferty.

If you like low camp, you'll find much of this highly amusing. If you don't, you'll still get some chuckles. Chamberlin, a more inflated Wallace Shawn, and Stillman, a more elongated Roddy McDowall, are good actors; Shear, who doesn't look like West and is a poor actress, is a droll writer. With James Lapine, her co-author and director, she has cooked up a silly-sweet confection that will be enshrined in the annals of fluff.


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