To Bitter and Back | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

To Bitter and Back 

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To Bitter and Back, Bailiwick Repertory. David Pevsner's 85-minute mostly one-man musical features the LA entertainer's notorious song "Perky Little Porn Star From Skokie"--performed nightly on the same stage during Naked Boys Singing! As directed by Randy Brenner, Pevsner exposes himself figuratively as well. With disarming honesty he depicts himself as a guy resigned to "not getting what I wanted and not knowing what I had."

An early TV addict--he could escape his family and never leave the house--this gay Jewish showman became the butt of jokes in gym class and the scandal of his third-grade talent show with a highly choreographed takeoff on the Association's "Windy." His life since has been a work in progress. The show's ten songs, written by Pevsner and six others and performed with the personable Greg Walter, detail his obsessions. "Shoot Me" is a country-western lament about growing old at the bars, "Merry Ex-Mas" delivers curses to one of the three guys who dumped him, "Ballad" is a musical promissory note for the great love yet to come, and "Right" balances bitterness and hope.

Using props from his life, Pevsner concludes with a strangely intense tribute to an 82-year-old Flemish lady who for years worked for his family for love and not money. Though the bit comes out of nowhere, it's charming, heartfelt, and homegrown, like most of this unpretentious, ultimately moving sung testimonial.

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