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THEATER REVIEWS : Tacking Up a Comic 'Gecko' Greeting : The lounge lizards' musical parody sends up those silly and sentimenal specials, but as satire it doesn't quite deliver.

December 08, 1994|M.E. WARREN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

GARDEN GROVE--For the fourth consecutive year (at the Gem Theatre this time), Sal and Amanda Gecko, lounge lizards extraordinaire, are inviting you into their tinseled living room to celebrate the season.

As they eagerly await an invitation to play Vegas on New Year's Eve, the Geckos share their dreams, their disappointments and their nightclub act with the audience.

They don't share any of their well-stocked bar, but "Jack Daniels nipping at the nose" aptly describes the state of mind and humor of our over-the-top holiday host and hostess.

Though it purports to be a sendup of maudlin specials and bad nightclub acts, "Christmas With Sal and Amanda Gecko" is too toothless to be satirical and, try as one might, it's hard to outdo the originals, which have become parodies of themselves over the years.

As Sal and Amanda, George Quick and Beth Hansen camp it up in outrageous wigs and costumes that go Dolly Parton and your weird Uncle Bob one better.

Backed up by Terry Alaric on piano and Randy Woltz on drums, they do an accomplished job of singing badly, sliding around those pitches like sledders on freshly fallen snow. Hansen embellishes her longer notes with a vibrato like a jackhammer.

*

Both performers display considerable musical talent and charisma. But even their generous performances cannot beef up the thinness of the material, which might constitute a cute skit but stretches to the breaking point over an hour and 10 minutes.

The audience seemed to enjoy the Geckos even though there were no new jokes after the first couple of songs. For that matter, there are no "new" jokes at all--just a familiar foolishness and a sloppy sentimentality that probably would be enhanced by a couple of stiff eggnogs before the show.

*

If you can still get a warm, gooey feeling from "A Christmas Carol" or the Grinch, "Christmas With Sal and Amanda Gecko" may not be your cup of wassail. A certain adult jadedness is prerequisite for appreciating Sal and Amanda. My young companion just didn't get any of it and finally gave up and fell asleep.

* "Christmas With Sal and Amanda Gecko," Gem Theatre, 12852 Main St., Garden Grove. Thursday-Sunday, 8 p.m.; Sunday matinees at 2:30. Ends Dec. 18. $16-$18.50. (714) 636-7213. Running time: 1 hour, 10 minutes.

George Quick: Sal Gecko

Beth Hansen: Amanda Gecko

Terry Alaric: Marty Feinstein

Randy Woltz: Murray Feinstein

A Musical Theatre Company production, directed by Roger Alderwood. Dialogue by Allison E. Wood. Set: Robert L. Smith. Lights: Bonnie Vigil. Sound: Dave Edwards. Stage Manager: Marya Slater.

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