Assuming various characters as she sang, mimed and sometimes narrated the story of a Midwestern innocent gone Hollywood, Ann Magnuson imitated Ethel Merman, Eartha Kitt, an Ann-Margret-style sex kitten and a Latin bombshell who might have been patterned on Carmen Miranda or Charo. The songs — mostly original — filled in the story, and aren’t likely to work in other contexts, and Magnuson was joined for a few of them by a pair of seminude dancers. Whoa! Sounds like Performance Art. As such, there’s no better place locally for the actress-singer’s show than Luna Park, perhaps the most self-consciously artsy club in West Hollywood. Magnuson fit right in, eliciting hearty chuckles from many of the patrons as she and her exceptional band performed her just-released Geffen Records album “The Luv Show.”
While Magnuson’s act is a lot of arch fun, it’s destined for a small cult following. The singer, who has acted on stage (her one-woman “You Could Be Home Now”), in film (“Clear and Present Danger”) and TV (boss of Jamie Lee Curtis and Richard Lewis in “Anything But Love”), is a talented enough vocalist that it would be nice to hear her do a set of real songs, and funny enough that limiting herself to this one rather tired context doesn’t do her justice.
By far the strongest piece of material was her encore, a very funny tribute to David Bowie that worked as simultaneous homage and dismissal. Her account of a visit to a Bowie recording session (“If you have any ideas,” read the invitation, “come on down”) and the announcement of an upcoming joint tour of “the thin white cokehead” and Kiss’ Gene Simmons might not be, after all, that far-fetched.