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Blogway Baby

Blogway Baby


Infamous celebrity blogger Perez Hilton gets the musical treatment in Perez Hilton...The Musical! onstage now as part of the 2008 NY International Fringe Festival.

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 updated blog.

The show's 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 stealer.

As 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.

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Mike Diamond