Poseidon! is still shipshape | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

Poseidon! is still shipshape 

A stellar cast keeps the parody musical cruising.

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Rick Aguilar Studios

The dramatic footage from the Norwegian cruise ship stranded in rough waters this past weekend was cool, but you couldn't sing along to it. For that, you need to head over to Hell in a Handbag's remount of this 2002 show, the first in the company's checkered camp history. Created by Handbag founder David Cerda (with help from Scott Lamberty), this homage/spoof of the 1972 Irwin Allen-produced disaster-at-sea film is still mostly shipshape, thanks to a stellar cast.

Stevie Love's idiot child-woman singer, Nonnie, contrasts with Elizabeth Lesinkski's brassy ex-hooker, Linda (who steams and struts her way through the show- stopping "Just Panties"). David Lipschutz as the insufferable Reverend Scott channels Harold Hill in The Music Man in his wrestling-with-faith number, "Dear God." (Not to be confused with the XTC song of the same title.) And Tommy Bullington as Belle Rosen warbles "(In the Water) I'm a Very Skinny Lady" with a dash of poignance. The pedophilia jokes at the expense of Frankie Leo Bennett's Robin feel awkward, to say the least, but Cerda finds an unlikely ethical workaround by the end.

Derek Van Barham's direction and Breon Arzell's choreography both commit to a more-is-more aesthetic, which plays nicely off the poor-theater inventiveness of Christopher Rhoton's scenic design. (I particularly liked how the production handled the man-falling-through-skylight sequence.) It takes a little while to find its sea legs, but Poseidon's affection for the original cruising matches course with a­­ sharp dissection of its cliches.   v

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