A classic for the mob

Tearjerker! works best when the audience pitches in--literally

Things really start cooking when our heroine, a shy heiress named Paula (Amy Askins), flees the convent and becomes a tutor in the wealthy household de Lagrimas, headed by rock-jawed Aryan Don Donnie (Jim Hopkins) and his shrewish, disabled wife Dona (Alice Montgomery). The saintly Paula sees reflections of her relationship with her own slutty sister in her two charges--man-hungry Veronica (Holly Jenkins) and sweet but temperamental Chickleta (a hilarious Jennifer Rice), whose brattiness has a homicidal glee.

By the time Paula is transformed into Soledad de Mundo, the most successful showgirl in South America, she's had to climb over all manner of subplots dropped in her path, including faithless lovers, adultery temptations, and a homicide charge. It's difficult to say how much you'll enjoy Tearjerker!, because the effectiveness of any given performance will be fundamentally influenced by audience interaction. But the cast proved more resourceful than I expected, picking up speed after a few dull scenes and bringing the audience with them sidecar.

Tearjerker! Or, the Mambo Girl runs through February 14. Call (214) 821-1860.

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