Red Scare on Sunset (St. Genesius Theatre: 55 seats; $ 17 top) Collective Artists Works presents a play in two acts by Charles Busch; director, Donald Emmerich; producers, Steve Johansen, LeAnn Hamilton; sets, Alex Grayman; costumes, Curtis Jerome; music, Christian J. Moder. Opened, reviewed Sept. 21, 1996; runs through Oct. 27. Running time: 2 hrs., 20 min. Cast: LeAnn Hamilton (Pat Pilford), Steve Johansen (Frank Taggart), Bonnie Lucas (Mary Dale), Chris Alexander (Malcolm), Susan Taylor (Marta), Todd Eckert (Mitchell), Maile Flanagan (Ralph Bertrum), Bill Shackford (RG, Granny Lou), Yesica Pineda (Singer). Red Scare on Sunset" has less plot development than a Boris & Natasha episode of "Bullwinkle" and is not nearly as funny. Charles Busch has fashioned a no-brainer cartoon strip satire out of the McCarthy-era "red menace" blacklistings that destroyed the careers and lives of many of the entertainment industry's talents. Hampered by a production that was technically unprepared for its opening-night performance, a talented ensemble works hard to make some sense out of Busch's script and Donald Emmerich's awkward staging, but ultimately the actors and the audience are defeated. Set in 1951, as more and more artists were falling under the indictment of Sen. Joe McCarthy's congressional witch hunts, a Hedda Hopper-like radio personality, Pat Pilford (LeAnn Hamilton), has become McCarthy's self-appointed Hollywood champion, using the airwaves to blast anyone she suspects of being a dreaded "pinko." And indeed, there are Communist agents. The exotic Method actress Marta (Susan Taylor), the oily N.Y. playwright Mitchell (Todd Eckert), film director RG Benson (Bill Shackford), and the mysterious Baldric (Maile Flanagan), are hard at work in their efforts to take over the Hollywood film industry and overthrow the American way of life. Along the way, they set out to destroy the lives of Pilford, two happily married film stars, Mary Dale (Bonnie Lucas) and Frank Taggart (Steve Johansen), and a hairdresser (Chris Alexander). The cast has its moments. Hamilton has great comic timing as the raunchy, joke-a-minute Pilford. Taylor exudes a sensual presence as Marta, who turns slinking into a minor art form. Lucas is excellent as the not-so-dumb film star who saves her husband and Hollywood from the clutches of communism. Other standouts in the cast include Flanagan, who is quite effective as the comic villain Baldric and a variety of other roles; Alexander, who is hilarious in his unrequited efforts to seduce film star Taggart; and Eckert as the blackmailing playwright who once was an "item" in Pilford's past. Alex Grayman's impressionistic set design, with its use of cartoonlike rear projections, is imaginative but proved barely functional on opening night. Also hampering the proceedings are an inefficient (and uncredited) lighting design and an obtrusive pre-recorded score by Christian J. Moder. The costumes by Curtis-Jerome, however, worked very well. For some incomprehensible reason, vocalist Yesica Pineda offers a tentative rendition of the World War II ballad "It's Been a Long, Long Time," to open and close the show. Julio Martinez

Red Scare on Sunset (St. Genesius Theatre: 55 seats; $ 17 top) Collective Artists Works presents a play in two acts by Charles Busch; director, Donald Emmerich; producers, Steve Johansen, LeAnn Hamilton; sets, Alex Grayman; costumes, Curtis Jerome; music, Christian J. Moder. Opened, reviewed Sept. 21, 1996; runs through Oct. 27. Running time: 2 hrs., 20 min. Cast: LeAnn Hamilton (Pat Pilford), Steve Johansen (Frank Taggart), Bonnie Lucas (Mary Dale), Chris Alexander (Malcolm), Susan Taylor (Marta), Todd Eckert (Mitchell), Maile Flanagan (Ralph Bertrum), Bill Shackford (RG, Granny Lou), Yesica Pineda (Singer). Red Scare on Sunset” has less plot development than a Boris & Natasha episode of “Bullwinkle” and is not nearly as funny. Charles Busch has fashioned a no-brainer cartoon strip satire out of the McCarthy-era “red menace” blacklistings that destroyed the careers and lives of many of the entertainment industry’s talents. Hampered by a production that was technically unprepared for its opening-night performance, a talented ensemble works hard to make some sense out of Busch’s script and Donald Emmerich’s awkward staging, but ultimately the actors and the audience are defeated. Set in 1951, as more and more artists were falling under the indictment of Sen. Joe McCarthy’s congressional witch hunts, a Hedda Hopper-like radio personality, Pat Pilford (LeAnn Hamilton), has become McCarthy’s self-appointed Hollywood champion, using the airwaves to blast anyone she suspects of being a dreaded “pinko.” And indeed, there are Communist agents. The exotic Method actress Marta (Susan Taylor), the oily N.Y. playwright Mitchell (Todd Eckert), film director RG Benson (Bill Shackford), and the mysterious Baldric (Maile Flanagan), are hard at work in their efforts to take over the Hollywood film industry and overthrow the American way of life. Along the way, they set out to destroy the lives of Pilford, two happily married film stars, Mary Dale (Bonnie Lucas) and Frank Taggart (Steve Johansen), and a hairdresser (Chris Alexander). The cast has its moments. Hamilton has great comic timing as the raunchy, joke-a-minute Pilford. Taylor exudes a sensual presence as Marta, who turns slinking into a minor art form. Lucas is excellent as the not-so-dumb film star who saves her husband and Hollywood from the clutches of communism. Other standouts in the cast include Flanagan, who is quite effective as the comic villain Baldric and a variety of other roles; Alexander, who is hilarious in his unrequited efforts to seduce film star Taggart; and Eckert as the blackmailing playwright who once was an “item” in Pilford’s past. Alex Grayman’s impressionistic set design, with its use of cartoonlike rear projections, is imaginative but proved barely functional on opening night. Also hampering the proceedings are an inefficient (and uncredited) lighting design and an obtrusive pre-recorded score by Christian J. Moder. The costumes by Curtis-Jerome, however, worked very well. For some incomprehensible reason, vocalist Yesica Pineda offers a tentative rendition of the World War II ballad “It’s Been a Long, Long Time,” to open and close the show. Julio Martinez

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more