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FACES

A Lamb in a Miniskirt

June 25, 1988|JANICE ARKATOV

"Welcome aboard Celebrity Slaveship," beams Miss Pat. "Please observe the 'Fasten Your Shackles' signs."

Danitra Vance plays the relentlessly chipper, pink-miniskirted stewardess, one of several outrageous characters in "The Colored Museum," George C. Wolfe's hilarious sendup of black stereotypes that will move from the Mark Taper Forum to Westwood Playhouse on Tuesday.

"I'm the sacrificial lamb," the actress says. "My job is to tune the audience in to the rest of the show. . . . It's really a thankless job. You have to enjoy putting the audience in the hot seat. And I do. I guess I'm disturbed that way."

Vance, who's recognizable to TV viewers from her 1985-86 stint on "Saturday Night Live" ("the most horrible-wonderful/wonderful-horrible experience of my life"), appeared with "Museum" co-star Loretta Devine in the film "Sticky Fingers," which played in the L.A. area for one week last month--then vanished.

"They haven't told me what happened," Vance says. "But they did send me a poster. I heard the movie's a big hit in New York."

In addition to stewardess Pat, Vance plays other characters in "Museum": a woman whose wigs (Afro and "long tresses") get into a shouting match over which one of them she'll wear to lun1667775264into a "Raisin in the Sun" spoof, and 9-year-old Norma Jean, whose intimate relations with the garbage man have resulted in her giving birth to a large white egg.

"Even though we've been doing this since (November) 1986, it's not same-o, same-o. It's never boring. I think that's because the audience is always different--but always together. I don't understand how 750 people all choose the same place to not understand or the same place to applaud. The group mentality thing is amazing."

She says she'll know when the time's right to finally put the role to bed: "I love being in this play. But I don't want to make a career of it."

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