July 18, 2005

Suzanne Somers' "Embarrassing Display of Emotional Exhibitionism," I Mean, "Solo Show"

Something is desperately needed, in any case, to dress up "The Blonde in the Thunderbird," a drab and embarrassing display of emotional exhibitionism masquerading as entertainment. Attired in a cruelly clingy black tights-and-tunic ensemble, Ms. Somers re-enacts or describes triumphs and traumas from her personal and professional life for a grinding 95 minutes, on a stage adorned only by a pair of video screens, an armchair, a prop phone and a coat rack. (It is curious, and telling, that Ms. Somers's magnified, two-dimensional presence on the video screens continually draws the focus away from the woman herself.)

Some of Ms. Somers's recollections are, regrettably, set to music. A performance of Frank Loesser's "Take Back Your Mink" is spliced into a recitation of a particularly violent encounter with her father. I'm not sure why. The show's writer-directors, Mitzie and Ken Welch, have also provided dreadful new lyrics for some old standards. Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern's "Pick Yourself Up" is now a song about bouncing checks and seeking solace in shopping. Unfortunately, Ms. Somers's singing voice is thin and often toneless, and the clanging piano chords underscoring the more anguished moments in her history, usually accented by a dramatic clutch at expensively highlighted hair, are giggle-inducing.

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