Satan's School for Girls | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Satan's School for Girls 

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SATAN'S SCHOOL FOR GIRLS, Circle Theatre. With a seemingly inexhaustible supply of innuendo and over-the-top sacrilege, Satan's School for Girls has a lot in common with its raunchy off-Loop counterparts. But thankfully Harry McEwan and John McMahon's well-tweaked musical is more campy than mean-spirited, combining a rapid-fire succession of rock 'n' roll song-and-dance routines with a liberal dose of fire and brimstone.

Social outcast Bernice desperately wants to fit in at her new school. But Bernice's perfect SAT scores can't compare with her bleached-blond classmates' favorite extracurricular activity, devil worship. When Satan appears at this Catholic girls' school in New Jersey ("the closest place to hell," as one number suggests) disguised as substitute music teacher Dr. Buzzlebee, it's up to Bernice and the pelvis-swinging Officer Johnny to ward off the minions of hell. The plot is predictably thin, but director Greg Kolack keeps things brisk with tight scene changes and blocking, and the energetic cast compensates for the few weak moments with a round of sidesplitting performances.

Although McEwan's script is saturated with intelligence-insulting puns, it also features a wicked, precise satire of Catholicism and some subtle cultural references to everything from Cool Hand Luke to O. Henry. With a nunchaku-wielding nun and a devil less sinister than Ben Vereen, Satan's School for Girls can't take itself too seriously, and when the dust finally settles, it's pretty endearing in its ridiculousness. --Nick Green


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