In Victor/Victoria He Says, She Sings

Theater Caps are bite-sized punch-packing capsule reviews by resident theater critic Elaine Liner. Use them as a reminder -- or a teaser, if you procrastinate -- of her full-length reviews in The Mixmaster's weekly sister.

The stage version of the 1982 Blake Edwards movie Victor/Victoria takes what was a B-level screen farce and makes it into a C-level piece of musical theater. Uptown Players is doing the show at Kalita Humphreys Theater right now and if it weren't for a bunch of fine actors pouring oodles of energy and vocal heft into it, there'd be no reason to recommend it.

The plot, after all, is beyond ridiculous. A down-and-out English singer in 1930s Paris gains fame and fortune by pretending to be a Polish count who pretends to be a female singer. But she's a she in the first place, so what she's doing is masquerading as a man who performs in drag.

What's so hard about a woman pretending to be a woman? (This is Edwards' idea of hilarious.)

Julie Andrews did the show onscreen and on Broadway (disastrously). Here, it's the lovely Ashley Puckett Gonzales wearing the count's tuxedo and hitting the high notes in the nearly unsingable (and certainly unhummable) score by Henry Mancini. As her gay beard, Paul Taylor is a puckish Toddy. As the Chicago mobster who falls in love with the "count" because he thinks she's a woman (Which she is! Which is stupid!), Shane Peterman has a swarthy charm.

The best role is the mobster's moll, Norma, played with nails-on-chalkboard squawk by the very funny Whitney Hennen.

The singing and dancing by the chorus is a bit ragged. But Uptown is sort of known for that.

Victor/Victoria continues through August 21 at Kalita Humphreys Theater. Call 214-219-2718 for tickets.

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