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THEATER BEAT

Groundlings Troupe Dolls On in 'Wish'

June 23, 1995|F. KATHLEEN FOLEY

The Groundlings comedy troupe launches its first season of subscription shows with "Groundlings Wish You Were Here" at the group's theater on Melrose Avenue.

Although the outre characterizations sometimes supersede the laughs, the show contains enough scripted yocks and off-the-cuff wackiness to demonstrate, yet again, just what a formidable comic machine the Groundlings remain after more than 20 years on the Los Angeles scene.

The evening opens strongly with "Pool Party," in which two young women (Maggie Baird and Karen Maruyama) arrive at a social gathering only to realize they have mistakenly accepted an invitation to a pool party. The horrified women go to extraordinary lengths to avoid exposing their bodies in this riotous send-up of sexual mores.

Director Melanie Graham orchestrates the improv segments, the stand-out of which is Jim Wise's show-stopping "Love Song," in which Wise warbles his adoration--in extemporaneous rhyme no less--to a young woman chosen at random from the audience.

The show's final offering, "Miss Hanoi," a parody of "Miss Saigon," is a disappointment. However, the sketches are always amusing and sometimes sidesplitting. And for those who love puns, Steve Kehela's "Name Dropper" is a transcendent experience.

* "Groundlings Wish You Were Here," Groundling Theatre, 7307 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles. Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 and 10 p.m. Ends Sept. 2. $17.50. (213) 934-9700. Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.

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