Willard Beckham’s off-Broadway musical Lucky Guy is set in a time before country music got all sexy and accessible — back when it it was about big hair, deep-fried twangs, and overemphatic two-stepping.
I.e., it’s pre-Shania Twain.
But the biz was apparently just as cutthroat as now because the musical involves a scheme by a used-car salesman (the adorable Leslie Jordan) to get a narcissistic country diva (priceless singer/comic/drag star Varla Jean Merman) to steal a hit song from a young yokel (the impossibly good-looking and talented Kyle Dean Massey).
The screwball result amounts to old-school camp, with eye-grabbing outfits by William Ivey Long and some bouncy tomfoolery — though too often a wacky entrance or offbeat line reading is depended on to squeeze laughs out of material that isn’t always a riot.
By Act Two, though, the tone finds a stronger footing, Varla’s character reveals a hilarious secret, and there’s even some real feeling amid the gags.
You beam so hard you forget that the “Lucky Guy” song everyone wants to steal feels a little borrowed in itself!
(From “The Green, Green Grass of Home.”)
Anyhoo, Lucky Guy (the show) is basically embroidered fluff that you probably won’t remember by time your hominy grits cool down, but while it lasts, it serves some country ham with zip.
And Varla and Leslie are so appealing as the baddies that maybe they should retitle this The Book of Merman.