By Mike Diamond
Originally published on Advocate.com August 14 2008 12:00 AM ET
Perez Hilton Saves the Universe (or at Least the
Greater Los Angeles Area): The Musical! is one of
those shows that manages to successfully skewer the
culture of celebrity worship while simultaneously
reveling in it, and it does so with wicked enthusiasm. The
show is playing through August 22 at the 45 Bleecker Theatre
as part of the 2008 NY International Fringe
Festival. Set in "the not too distant future,"
the show centers on the eponymous Mr. Hilton, the
love-him-or-loathe-him blogger who has parlayed his often
controversial online tabloid rag into a lucrative career.
Hilton is played
by Randy Blair, who also wrote the book and lyrics. With
his pear-shaped body, under-eye circles, and shock of
neon-pink hair, this Perez is alternately catty,
mournful, and ditzy, but always dipped in
self-importance and ambition. He and his pink
Swarovski-studded MacBook are at the center of his
self-created digital universe; stars and hangers-on
swirl around him, angling for space on his obsessively
plot is ludicrous, but it's merely a vehicle to trot out
scathing celebrity impersonations and musical numbers.
Terrorists plan to detonate a bomb at the recently
departed Britney Spears’s wake, and they're
using Hilton’s blog to get as many victims to the
scene of the impending crime as possible. Add to
this a Manhunt-fueled love story and some pissed-off,
attention-hungry celebrities, and the madness begins.
The nearly bare
stage is dominated by a video screen on the back wall.
Images of various stars flash on-screen as they are
referenced or call Hilton -- Kirsten Dunst (a.k.a.
Drunkst), Barack Obama, Kirstie Alley. Under a photo
of American Idol judge Randy Jackson the words
"I Wanna Be a Woman, Dawg!” appear. All roads lead
back to Hilton, as famous people constantly harangue
him and his assistant for mentions. The show’s
music is enjoyable if standard fare. You may not remember
the melodies after you leave the theater, but some of
the lyrics do provide some unforgettable imagery
(“Miley Cyrus doing lines off a tranny whore,”
anyone?). The songs, with titles like "Do You Hear the
Celebrities?" and "Blow Them All Away," range from
mock-earnest to baldly vicious, and all are rife with
rapid-fire double entendres and references to stars of
the High School Musical caliber.
The cast is
uniformly engaging and strikes just the right balance
between staying in character and winking at the
audience. Most cast members play multiple roles,
including Paris Hilton, Amy Winehouse, R. Kelly, and
the Olsen twins. Andrew Keenan-Bolger plays "Twinkie boy"
Zac Efron, among other roles, and is quite adorable,
providing the show a dose of gratuitous male
flesh with periodic flashes of his six-pack abs and
hairless torso. Laura Jordan's Kathy Griffin is a riot,
a scheming, egomaniacal camera whore, and quite the scene
Hilton’s assistant Alyssa, Dana Steingold is a
standout, with great comic timing, a winsome stage
presence, and a little-girl voice that
conjures Betty Boop meets The O.C. Her
Alyssa is sweet but slightly conniving, harboring stardom
dreams of her own. But this is Blair’s show. As
Perez, he pulls off the considerable feat of making
the blogger both a deplorable parasite and pitiable loser,
keeping the laughs coming throughout.
Perez Hilton…The Musical! may not change the
world and may not be an earthshaking theatrical
experience. Like Hilton's blog, the show
is silly, mean-spirited, and will be dated very, very
soon. And also like the blog it is refreshing,
nakedly cynical, profane, gleefully cheesy, and
totally, deliciously enjoyable.