NY Mirror

Mentally ill yet technically alive, Dance of the Vampires (based on a Polanski movie that's not The Pianist) is a lavishly tacky real-life "Thriller" video culminating in an energetic ode to garlic that's the single weirdest song ever staged. Michael Crawford—dolled up to look like Walter Mercado, that horoscope guy on cable—screeches Jim Steinman tunes that only Meat Loaf could love, while competing with smoke machines, a set that sometimes makes farting noises, and a gay son who longs to sink his teeth into the male ingenue's "banana." It's the worst show I ever enjoyed. The finale, with ghouls prancing around Times Square singing, "Tonight Is What It Means to Be Young," is so bonkers I was thrilled to have seen it rather than shoot myself in 20 years, when it'll be legendary. Fittingly, the poor 70-year-old usherettes who say, "Here's your seat, dear," have to do so in tight-fitting Count von Krolock capes!

Also both spoofing and embracing vulgarity, Elaine May's Adult Entertainment seems like a porn companion to Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway, but it's really a complete rip-off of—I mean dazzling homage to—my own esteemed work. (References to Saving Ryan's Privates, "Heidi the 'ho," and "pubic access" can all be traced to my œuvre, thank you.) But it's Robin Byrd who really should sue—I mean be flattered. A character is blatantly based on her, down to the bustier and the theme song about a box! Interestingly, I hear that May (along with a pre-Graduate Lorraine Bracco) checked out The Donkey Show a while ago in order to study the TV host. "No comment," said Byrd after seeing May's play.

Finally, Imaginary Friends by Nora Ephron—who's not the same person as Elaine May—is a truly bizarre hybrid of musical, biography, and bitchfest, adding up to a literary answer to Roxie and Velma. Rather than start a whole new feud, I won't tell you which of the two leads I way prefer. Whatever happened to "Class"? It's obviously right here in my little noggin.

SPECIAL TO THE WEB: Tommy Tune is a lovable, fast-stepping con artist. The highlight of his new show, Tommy Tune: White Tie and Tails, has the entertainer extraordinaire doing a supposedly impromptu Q&A segment with the audience. Well, the other night, during this exchange, everyone gasped with glee when an audience member stood up and asked Tune, "Remember me?" It turned out the woman had studied dance with Tune at a university years back and was now married with children, but still willing to come onstage to banter with her old pal and do a little twirl. (She and Tune climaxed by enjoyably recreating their old "Under the Bamboo Tree" dance.) The bit was a smash, the audience thinking the woman winningly real, especially when she revealed she's now "a peach . . . a speech therapist." The problem is that when I saw Tune perform in Vegas two years ago, the very same lady came onstage to do the very same stammering, giggling shtick, down to the clumsy dance steps and the "peach" line. Some say she's a nightly attraction. Tune admits his show is "part vaudeville, part verisimilitude," but I guess it's mostly vaudeville. (A publicist for the show who said she was trying to reach Tune for comment never called me back.)


musto@villagevoice.com

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