Howlin' at the Moon! By Madison Mason
La MaMa E.T.C.
74A East 4th Street
Sonny Ray Buck was the wildest, sexiest singing star of the Nashville circuit. Then he shot his wife in the butt, got nine years in the can, and lost all his fans. Playwright-composer-director Madison Mason's country-rock musical picks up the fictional story with Sonny Ray's attempt to win back his following. It's the perfect excuse for boot-stompin' fun. Too bad the tunes are either ridiculously bland or just so awful that they hog-tie the story (to say nothing of the ludicrous p.c. rap number, "Minority Blues"). Accompanied by a live four-piece band, actor and musician Scott Wakefield makes Sonny Ray sound pretty good, but he lacks the charisma of a real showman. When Wakefield does the triumphant rock number "Back From the Dead," he sounds half dead himself. On the other hand, Trudi Posey (as Sonny Ray's soulful girlfriend, Lynnette) wrings thrilling emotion from every line. But why not give these actors some direction? Mostly they look lost or bored, aimlessly pacing a set that's divided into a fleabag motel room, greasy diner, and concert stage. By the time Sonny Ray makes his comeback as "The King Wolf," you'll be howling for relief.