With her raspy contralto and Emma Thompson–meets–Martha Graham visage, LoLo is no Sarah Jones–style chameleon; each of her characters has a similar look and sound, and she was wise to focus on just three of them. (Actually, dropping Rosenthal would have done the piece no harm.) 38 Witnessed Her Death—directed smoothly by the modern-dance choreographer Jody Oberdorfer, who has also created a pair of genially racy duets for herself and Shila Tirabassi as Genovese/Zielonko surrogates—is all the more captivating for the relative conventionality of Zielonko’s thoughts. She dwells on the specifics of the evening, she remains furious at those (directly and indirectly) responsible, she objects to the funeral outfit that Genovese’s parents pick out, she misses her lover. They are, in short, utterly predictable statements—and yet we had to wait almost a half-century before she could give voice to them. ERIC GRODE

MoMA Rock Concert Musical
By Richard Caliban
CSV Flamboyan Theater
107 Suffolk Street, fringenyc.org

Writer-director Richard Caliban, onetime artistic director of Cucaracha Theater, could be on to something with MoM, which imagines a quintet of suburban mothers forming a rock band as an outlet for their frustrations and achieving global fame. It's a little like Desperate Housewives on a Susan Boyle adventure.

"MoM—A Rock Concert Musical"
Richard Caliban
"MoM—A Rock Concert Musical"

Caliban's songs are a terrific mix of styles, and the lyrics, while not elegant, aim for humor and genuine emotion—often inspiring both. While Caliban’s characters intrigue, the book proves ungainly, lurching forward from the group's first appearance through their meteoric rise, never fully committing to a narrative that's either linear or pure flashback. As a result, the soap opera clichés that slip into the script—one woman's drug and alcohol abuse and a pair of the moms becoming lovers—feel like forced attempts at creating drama. Thankfully, these surmountable problems are diminished by the engaging and appealing performances from the company, particularly Donna Jean Fogel and Bekka Lindström. A life for MoM post-Fringe is undeniable. ANDY PROPST

A Long Walk Home
By Lauren Marie Albert
Robert Moss Theatre
440 Lafayette Street, fringenyc.org

It wouldn’t be a Fringe Festival without the likes of A Long Walk Home, an undoubtedly heartfelt, wildly indulgent journey deep into creator-director-performer Lauren Marie Albert’s navel. From the banal conceit (a jilted lover nurses her bruised ego by affecting a series of bad accents before achieving a level of female solidarity through song) to the passable but relatively uninventive snippets of dance that punctuate her material, this Long Walk is as exasperating as the title would indicate.

A pair of women—one in ballet slippers, one wielding a guitar—join Albert for some of the more intricate dances as well as a handful of vaguely Appalachian-style folk ballads. It’s during one of the latter sequences, which includes the lyric “I reach out to the midnight of you,” that one’s mind turns to its own temporal musings. Musings along the lines of “This is one of the shorter Fringe shows I’m seeing, right? Right??” It is, and in less time than it takes to commute to Midtown, the lights go up and the crapshoot that is the Fringe Festival begins again. ERIC GRODE

Pie-Face! The Adventures of Anita Bryant
By David Karl Lee
Actor's Playhouse
110 Seventh Avenue South, fringenyc.com

Those who missed her reign as Florida orange juice spokesperson and anti-gay evangelist can get a history lesson on the downfall of a wholesome entertainer in Pie-Face! The Adventures of Anita Bryant. Nailing Bryant’s appearance in flowery frocks, hair perfectly smoothed and flipped, writer-actor David Karl Lee lipsynchs the singer’s record hits of the '50s and '60s, recites her musings on religion and “homa-sec-sha-ality,” stars in faux newsreels about Bryant’s antics, and unearths historical footage and texts. The show peaks early with a screening of a gay assailant mussing the former beauty queen’s china-doll complexion with a pie in the face. "At least it's a fruit pie," she concedes in this YouTube treasure. For much of the show, Lee re-enacts the extensive interviews Bryant granted Rolling Stone journalist Ken Kelley in 1978. Her damning words are hilarious and appalling enough to be milked for all they're worth, but the momentum dissipates when director Kenny Howard insists upon a deeper emotional response: Lee’s sermon on being yourself and a closing slideshow of gay Pride pictures proves more sugary than a tall glass of OJ. SHARYN JACKSON

Dirty Stuff
By Johnny McGovern
Actors Playhouse
110 Seventh Avenue South, fringenyc.org

There's a moment in Dirty Stuff—when a nerdy, closeted gay man sings a duet with a gay pimp about the virtues of boys' soccer teams—that demonstrates how multi-dimensional a solo show can be. As Jonny McGovern’s timbre hops from nebbishy whine to Audrey 2-style bass, one forgets that both of these voices are coming from one button-cute performer. McGovern is an NYC nightlife personality and comedian who's found fame on Logo's Big Gay Sketch Show, but in this Courtney Munch-directed pastiche, he spins an elaborate tale of five wayward folks who discover their full potential after a night of gay clubbing. The lily-white McGovern slips seamlessly into the roles of the closet-case, a pimp called the Velvet Hammer, an Arabic fashion designer, a washed-up blaxploitation film star named Chocolate Puddin', and Puddin's trailer park neighbor Lurleen Famous. The big-haired, tight-dressed Lurleen thrills when she first steps into Club Shelter and notices how the "women" there look exactly like her; indeed, McGovern's story proposes that the microcosm of a gay nightclub isn't so different from the mind of a fame-hungry Southern white-trash teen. It's quite the revelation. SHARYN JACKSON

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