Sometimes, a project comes along that is so cynically lowbrow, it boggles the tortured mind.
"Divorce Party: The Musical,” now in its glitzy, empty West Coast premiere at the El Portal, is just such a project, a piece of ossified fluff obviously intended to manipulate the drooling masses and make a big bundle of cash for its creators.
In light of this current production, that’s a faint hope.
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Mark Schwartz, producer of the runaway hit “Menopause: The Musical,” struggles to repeat that winning formula in this unfortunate outing, which features a book by Schwartz, Amy Botwinick and Jay Falzone. Falzone, who directs and choreographs, also contributes “lyrics” – labored parodies of pop and rock standards that are about as clever as an X-rated elementary school pageant.
The plot, which has very little to do with the actual intricacies and traumas of divorce, centers around a “divorce party” that a group of stalwart friends throw to cheer up their morose gal pal, who has just learned her hubby is gay.
Lowlights include such numbers as “You Must Groom” (sung to the Beach Boys’ “In My Room”), a graphic paean to pubic waxing, and “Gay Guys Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” Then there's that sequence in which the gals brandish their favorite vibrators – product placement at a new low.
All in all, the show would make Seth MacFarlane’s Oscar turn play like a feminist rally. That’s a shame, because the production values are high, as is the talent quotient of the ready and able cast – Scott Ahearn, Janna Cardia, Samara Dunn, Soara-Joye Ross and Mary Jayne Waddell. Trapped in this silly and misogynistic morass, all deserve better.
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“Divorce Party: The Musical,” El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays. Ends April 14. $40-$60. (866) 811-4111. www.elportaltheatre.com. Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes.