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Vampire Vamps

In a witty, campy musical salute, sci-fi-influenced 'Virgins From Venus' cavorts in good-natured fun. Theater Review

October 05, 2000|PHILIP BRANDES | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

"We search for blood--but it's all in vein," croons the toothy titular quartet of "Vampire Virgins From Venus," Gary McAuley's campy, affectionate musical salute to the B-grade sci-fi horror flicks of the 1950s. Judging from their scanty costumes and uninhibited libidos, the virginal status of these Venusian vixens stretches the spandex of disbelief to its outer limits.

By way of explanation, we learn these vamps are celibate by circumstance rather than inclination--it seems an extraterrestrial sojourn by Vlad the Impaler (better known as Dracula) transformed the "second stone from the sun" into a planet of warring vampires. The four sex-starved survivors are forced to wander set designer Wally Weiss' modified-shower-curtain and faux rock planet, dining on mutant rubber cockroaches, until the fortuitous arrival of a spaceship delivers a fresh cargo of "human Slurpees."

*

In the proud, uncompromising tradition of "The Rocky Horror Show" and "The Little Shop of Horrors," the show sports a high-orbit cast. Fairly bursting out of Thomas Marquez's costumes, the vamps are a scream. As Queen Dyldono, Michele Mais belts out her songs of galactic conquest in the best gospel and R&B tradition. Brainy Kelina (Marnie Alexenburg) and brazen Jasiper (AnnaLisa Erickson) strut their sinister tactics in "Gonna Wear Down Your Resistance."

True to their word, they make short work of the space-stud crew (Michael A. Shepperd, David Holladay and David G. Robinson), and commandeer the ship to seek new hunting grounds back on Earth.

The one dissenter is Barbella (Kym Hoy), who prefers true human-style love. A star-crossed romance--tragically cut short--develops between Barbella and the intrepid but urologically challenged Cap'n Bob (Jamie Kaler), who's forced to run for the bathroom at the first sign of trouble.

Hoy tackles a very different challenge in her second-act role as Aerial, a downtrodden Earthside homemaker who dreams of a better life in "Crazy, Mixed Up World"--a pleasant enough ditty that nevertheless pales beside its obvious inspiration ('Somewhere That's Green" from "Little Shop"). Aerial joins Cap'n Bob, a hard-line general (Shepperd), a know-it-all scientist (Holladay) and a flamboyant televangelist (Robinson) in a desperate bid to staunch the flow of humanity being drained by the insatiable invaders.

Steeped in puns, double-entendres and whimsical parodies of the Cold War paranoia that ran rampant beneath the surface of 1950s sci-fi, McAuley's witty play is as good as it needs to be. The serviceable songs by McAuley and co-lyricist and co-composer Gerald Sternbach benefit from committed performances and musical accompaniment by David Manning.

David Galligan's breezy staging ensures this romp delivers exactly what it aims for: sexy, good-natured fun.

BE THERE

"Vampire Virgins From Venus," Hudson Backstage Theatre, 6537 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Thursdays through Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Ends Nov. 19. $18.50 to 22.50. (323) 856-4200. Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.

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