Murder at the Howard Johnson's Serves Up Flavorful Fare

Also: Collin College kicks up heels with Li'l Abner and unfunny Nipples at Hub

 And what to make of the "Yokumberry tonic" that kills men's attraction to women and turns them into preening bodybuilders?

 Collin College's production keeps all the old references intact and even revives a number that was cut from the Broadway version, the vampy "The Way to a Man's Heart," sung by villainous temptress Appassionata von Climax (played with full-throated oomph by Julie Mayer).

 The cast of 36 goes great guns on the choreography by Paula Morelan (clearly inspired by Michael Kidd's original moves). Nathan Beaudrie has the face of an angel and voice of a matinee idol as dim Abner. Kim Borge plays Daisy Mae in a style American Idol judges might call "pageant-y," but she sings nicely and looks mighty purty in that ragged miniskirt. Among the supporting characters, Vladimir Meyman, in an acid-green Zoot suit, casts the comic whammy as Evil Eye Fleagle. Professional actor Dane Hoffman joins the students as Marryin' Sam and almost steals the show in a couple of the snazzier production numbers, including the ironic "The Country's in the Very Best of Hands."

Trista Wyly gets in comically knotty situations (with Erik Knapp and David H.M. Lambert) in Pocket Sandwich Theatre's Murder at the Howard Johnson's.
Rodney Dobbs
Trista Wyly gets in comically knotty situations (with Erik Knapp and David H.M. Lambert) in Pocket Sandwich Theatre's Murder at the Howard Johnson's.


Li'l Abner continues through March 9 at Collin College Theatre, Plano. Call 972-881-5100.

Murder at the Howard Johnson's continues through March 29 at Pocket Sandwich Theatre. Call 214-821-1860.

Nipples to the Windcontinues through March 22 at Hub Theatre. Call 972-239-6917.

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 Every minute busts wide open with youthful energy, and the audience eats it up. Li'l Abner works like a shot of theatrical B-12.


Nipples to the Wind has extended its run at the Hub Theatre. The two-woman comedy sketch show already has its own soundtrack CD, souvenir T-shirts and nightshirts, line of greeting cards, commemorative lapel pins and MySpace page. What it doesn't have is a good script.

 Pulling faces and wearing flowery muumuus doesn't make it funny. Funny words make it funny, and Nipples to the Wind doesn't have them. The ladies talk a pink streak, but their flat jokes about grocery store express lines, ill-fitting bras, old people and mothballs, Cosmo quizzes and Christmas newsletters are the stuff of acting class improv. It's all been done before and better in other comedy acts.

Nipples was written by cast member Paula Coco, who bears a striking resemblance to Vicar of Dibley diva Dawn French. Coco's a better actor than her co-star Janye Anderson, but all of her monologues run out of gas after the first few gags. And then the scenes continue for another 15 or 20 minutes.

 At 10:40 p.m., they bring out puppets.

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