'Erotic Broadway'

Seeing "Erotic Broadway" is like going on a blind date with a schizophrenic.

Seeing “Erotic Broadway” is like going on a blind date with a schizophrenic: There’s no telling what’s going to happen, but there’s a significant chance it will be memorable. Acts in this grab-bag of a burlesque variety show range from astonishing to pitiable. Tech package is a similar hodgepodge, with a lot of performers appearing in what looks like their own gear and getting some grief from the sound mix. High points at Monday’s perf included Samantha Zack’s killer dance solo and “Some Cats Know,” performed by “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” chanteuse Brenda Braxton.

The show starts off with “I Hope I Get It,” from Michael Bennett’s “A Chorus Line,” with Edward Kleban’s lyrics lightly mangled and an attractive, all-female line of performers in various states of undress, which will take the sting out of the lousy poetry for a certain segment of the audience. From here, we’re introduced to Joe Ricci and Sunilda Caraballo, co-emcees for the evening in one of the show’s major missteps.

Separately, the performers have their strong suits; Ricci’s performance of “Old Devil Moon” (from “Finian’s Rainbow,” upcoming on the Rialto) is a particularly nice piece of vocal work, and Caraballo’s standup isn’t bad.

Together, though, they have absolutely no chemistry, and neither can hold a candle to the better performers here: Michelle Pruiett, for example, gives a rendition of the Styne/Loesser standard “I Said No” that hits just the right funny/sexy vibe the show seems to be aiming for, and she does it while wearing more clothes than anyone else onstage.

Craig Pospisil’s recurring “Phone Sex” monologues, performed by a long-suffering Darcie Siciliano, are notably unfunny, and a later sketch simply reenacts “Who’s on First” with Who, What and I Don’t Know as hookers with specific specialties (Who is now on third base, in the other sense of the term “third base”) — not terribly original.

But there are other fun things here, including an amazing balloon show by Kenwyn Dapo, whose rubber-and-helium creations are terrible to behold and even more terrible to have thrown at you (it helps that she’s singing Stephen Sondheim’s “I Never Do Anything Twice” from “The Seven-Per-Cent Solution” as she inflates yet another pink, tumescent — well, you can guess). Deadpan dance perf “Dance O’Matic” takes a poke at the cramped venue and gets plenty of laughs.

The show also counts downtown performer and no-foolin’ burlesque star Julie Atlas Muz in its ranks; Muz’s fan dance (and her appearance in a couple of other numbers) gives the show the street cred it needs, as well as one performer who’s fine with going almost totally unclad. Muz’s deliberately freaky makeup gives her appearance a sort of Betty Boop effect — starting from the ground up, everything is going perfectly until you get to the lips and parts above. It’s a burlesque hallmark, it’s one of the most authentic things here, and it’s enough to make the whole shebang worth checking out.

Erotic Broadway

Triad Theater; 130 seats; $50 top

Production

A Timothy Childs and Anthony Francavilla presentation of a cabaret in one act created by Tricia Brouk and written by Joe Ricci and Sunilda Caraballo. Directed by Brouk. Choreography, Brouk and Bronwen Carson; musical direction, Andrew Sotomayor. Reviewed Aug. 10, 2009. Opened June 29. Running time: 1 HOUR, 45 MIN.

Cast

With: Joe Ricci, Sunilda Caraballo, Liz Piccoli, Gina Bombara, Kristin Jantzie, Michelle Pruiett, Tonya Wathen, Melissa D'Amico, Jason Hart, Julie Atlas Muz, Kenwyn Dapo, Adam Perry, Darcie Siciliano, Samantha Zack, Amber Bloom, Jackie Burns, Brenda Braxton, John Selya, Brian Brooks, Rachel Borgman, Leslie Taylor, Aaron Balter.

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