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Cabaret Review : Amazing Pink Things At The Backlot

October 03, 1987|DON HECKMAN

With a name like the Amazing Pink Things, you'd better be very good, or very suicidal. And when the Seattle-based vocal quartet bounced onto a pink-lit, pink-trimmed stage at the Backlot Thursday night, dressed in the tackiest looking pink outfits this side of Cindi Lauper's bustier, it began to look as though very good might not even be enough.

But it was--yes, indeed, it was. At a time when humor seems to be bounded on one side by NBC's 7:30 prime time schedule and on the other by Sen. Orrin Hatch's (R-Utah) advocacy of Judge Bork, the world is definitely in need of the wacko musical lunacy of the Pink Things.

Working with a full range of musical sources--from Vivaldi and Handel to Ethel Merman and Debbie Boone--composer and musical director Dana Countryman has assembled a show with the inspired goal of taking absolutely nothing seriously.

Among the high points: a hilariously choreographed send-up of Motown music and moves titled "We're Just Too White"; a medley of "Songs of Pain" (including "He Hit Me, but It Felt Just Like a Kiss"); a spoof commercial for the American Dermatologists Assn. called "You Gotta Have Skin"; a neo-Nazi disco theme titled "Wir Machen Boogie"; and a brilliantly sung (Handel would have loved it), a cappella "Hal and Lulu Chorus."

Tall and funny Tamara Martin, in her pink Tammy Whynot persona, oozed through such classic country lines as "I'd rather clean all the bathrooms in Grand Central Station with my tears, than spend one more minute with you." And Harry E. Hayward, a foot shorter than Martin, but no less amusing, was pure Val with the MTV special, "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun."

Robert Kaiser and Countryman--the other group members--also had their moments, especially during a television theme medley (sung from the inside of pink television sets, of course) that included everything from "Flipper" and "The Addams Family" to "Mr. Ed" and "Star Trek," the latter complete with a pink plastic replica of the Enterprise wafting across the set.

The Amazing Pink Things show--a rare evening of sheer inspiration in a season thus far bereft of much notable cabaret activity--continues at the Backlot, with performances at 9 p.m. tonight and Sunday, and Thursday through Sunday.

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