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At Least It’s Pink

What if the trashiest girl in your high school -- the one with the foul mouth, bad dye job and worse reputation -- grew up to have her very own show? That question gets answered by "At Least It's Pink," an obscenely funny cabaret co-written by Kenny Mellman of "Kiki and Herb" and Michael Patrick King, exec producer of "Sex and the City."

With:
With: Bridget Everett, Kenny Mellman, Rosa Curry, Sean Jenness, Peter Kim, Michael-Leon Wooley.

What if the trashiest girl in your high school — the one with the foul mouth, bad dye job and worse reputation — grew up to have her very own show? That question gets answered by “At Least It’s Pink,” an obscenely funny cabaret co-written by Kenny Mellman of “Kiki and Herb” and Michael Patrick King, exec producer of “Sex and the City.” But there’s a third writer who’s the real story here: Bridget Everett, star of this tongue-in-cheek autobiography and an unknown whose first major Gotham appearance seems guaranteed to make her a success.

Wearing a lace-up bustier and tight pinstriped pants, she makes her first impression with an anthem called “Big Girl,” announcing she’s an overweight sex junkie with a taste for degradation and liquor. That unexpected welcome — plus her nuclear energy and roof-shaking voice — gives Everett instant control of the room.

Through 13 songs and some salacious patter, she never dims a watt. But while her outsized persona might sound like boilerplate for every drag act from Hedwig to Divine, Everett and team burst with surprises.

For one thing, the music’s grand. Divorced from the dirty lyrics, Mellman and Everett’s score sounds like classic cabaret, delivering everything from brassy showstoppers to soaring ballads. The distance between form and content only gets funnier as the subjects grow increasingly extreme.

And the talk is more than just trash. King and Everett’s book provokes constant guffaws because it’s as clever as it is trashy. Talking about taking the subway to meet an online hook-up, Bridget sighs, “I know what you’re thinking: Young woman going up there to Harlem in the middle of the night for some anonymous down-low (sex). You’re thinking: Why not take a cab?”

This material wouldn’t be nearly as sharp without Everett’s stage persona. She performs with the earnestness of a young starlet finally getting her break, unaware some people may find her inappropriate. It’s not just that she’ll eat a potato chip she finds stuck in her bra. It’s that she doesn’t think she’s scandalous for doing it. Bridget isn’t trying to be a rebel; she’s just being herself. That bizarre innocence makes her a disaster worth cheering.

Creatives all deserve praise for making their finely crafted work feel so spontaneous. As director, King is particularly adept at balancing physical comedy with straight-ahead singing, so that one never overwhelms the other.

Angela Wendt’s costumes tell wicked jokes of their own. Touches like the snakeskin pattern on Bridget’s bustier subtly advance a stereotype of the low-class lady.

And those choices point to the show’s message: Let’s laugh at this woman who can’t hide herself. She’s funny because she’s a relief. Seeing Bridget — totally debauched yet still singing — makes our own little secrets seem less dirty. If this tramp can make it, so can we.

At Least It's Pink

Ars Nova; 99 seats; $25 top

Production: An Ars Nova presentation of a musical in one act, with music and lyrics by Kenny Mellman and Bridget Everett, book by Michael Patrick King and Everett. Directed by King.

Creative: Sets, Lauren Halpern; costumes, Angela Wendt; lighting, Tyler Micoleau; sound, Jorge Muellecq; production stage manager, Alaina Taylor. Opened Jan. 25, 2007. Reviewed Jan. 24. Running time: 1 HOUR, 15 MIN.

Cast: With: Bridget Everett, Kenny Mellman, Rosa Curry, Sean Jenness, Peter Kim, Michael-Leon Wooley.Musical numbers: "Big Girl," "Waiting," "Special Lady," "Canhole," "I'm Happy When," "Popular," "Back-Stabbing Bitch," "Skeetily Weedily Widdily Wo," "Maybe It's Time," "2 for 1 Special," "I'm Sorry," "A Lovely Shade of Pink."

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