NY Mirror

However you spell it, The Nualas is a goofy Irish Arts Center concert by a trio that claims to have formed in Dublin, though the act seems less like a comic Corrs than an Irish Spring commercial created by performance artists on the Lower East Side. All sporting clunky glasses and exaggerated accents, the gals—each one named Nuala, by the way—sing in crisp harmony about everything from Irish customs gone amok to the poignant plight of life's most existential creatures. ("Look at the severed lips of the trumpet player who accidentally picked up a harp.") They don't shut up either, gently mocking audience members in between serving up revelations about sex ("Nuala's bisexual." "Yes, I've had sex twice") and beauty ("We have stretch limos, stretch jeans, and stretch marks"). The show is impossible to categorize, which is one of many reasons it's so feckin' great.

At the Public, Elaine Stritch at Liberty gives us Stritch limos, Stritch jeans, and Stritch marks as it romps through the life, loves, and cocktails of Broadway's greatest reigning broad. The script is a tad too pat, but Stritch—the male Charles Nelson Reilly—shines, even when revealing her deepest insecurities and messiest behavior. Her remembrances of chasing after Rock Hudson and Gig Young while running from Marlon Brando make you wonder about the lady. (You do the math.) But she's a disarming kook, and you don't even mind it when she wincingly recalls a production of The Women in which Gloria Swanson needed to have her lines fed, only to have the Public Theater stagehand call out cues when Stritch flubs. Even when doing wrong, Elaine Stritch can do no wrong. She's every Sondheim diva ballad rolled into one leggy, foghorn-voiced legend.

They remember their lines in the new revival of The Women—perhaps a bit too aggressively so, thank you. In fact, though the scenery is sleek and pretty, it's largely been chewed up by the end of the night. The production seems like the work of anxious drag queens—at least two of the leads are surely the male Elaine Stritch—and the kitsch effects are laid on so thick that the play sometimes seems like "a diamond-studded douche bag" (a phrase from the script). But amid all the italicized meowing, there can't help but be some stylish diversions, especially from Jennifer Coolidge, who's a riot—and not just because she once dated Chris Kattan, who's on TV with Jimmy Fallon, OK?

"I don't know anything about the news": SNL's Jimmy Fallon with "Weekend Update" colleague Tina Fey.
photo: Keith Bedford
"I don't know anything about the news": SNL's Jimmy Fallon with "Weekend Update" colleague Tina Fey.


musto@villagevoice.com

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