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STAGE BEAT

Fringe Festival : '976-groundlings' Worth The Charge

September 11, 1987|DON SHIRLEY

"976-Groundlings" is one of the few Fringe events that mocks the Fringe itself. We meet a Fringe "coordinator" (Deanna Oliver) who fills us in on a few "late additions" to the Fringe.

One of them involves a group called the "Simi Savants." Clearly, Simi Valley is beginning to replace the San Fernando Valley as the comic valley of choice.

Oliver is dressed in a suitably "eclectic" outfit for this sketch--a reminder that the Groundlings' costumes are more elaborate and creative than those of any similar group in town. Together with Alan Axelrod's zippy music, the costumes distract us from lulls in the verbal byplay.

There aren't many such lulls in this latest presentation of the Groundlings' "A" team. True, such favorites as George McGrath and Joan Leizman are missing. But that allows us to concentrate on the crazy faces of Mindy Sterling and Jim Jackman, the deceptive girlishness of Sherri Stoner, the quick wit of Don Woodard, the rich sketch writing of Steve Hibbert ("Sensitive Guys") and Melanie Graham ("Barflies").

"Temple Play" could have been a shade more subtle, and there is nothing fresh about "Tracy Lane." But generally, this is one 976 "party line" that's worth the charge.

Performances are at 7307 Melrose Ave., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 8 and 10 p.m. Tickets: $11.50-$12.50; (213) 934-9700.

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