'THE WARRIOR ANT'

No, "The Warrior Ant" is not a macho sci-fi film for insectophiles. It is a 12-part musical epic-in-the-making by Lee Breuer and Bob Telson, creators of "The Gospel at Colonus."

Only the first and last segments of the work have been performed, in staged versions in New York and for radio in Los Angeles. This week at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Telson and his band Little Village are offering the nine songs from those portions, with a genial running synopsis of the storyline.

On the music alone, "The Warrior Ant" could be another hit. Telson's appealing calypso/salsa/pop blend suits the apparently quasi-tropical setting as well as Breuer's affectionately part-mocking, part-sincere lyrics.

This textual ambivalence may be resolved in the full production, but it created nagging contradictions Thursday. Breuer deals with Big Themes, principally racial and sexual tensions and identity in the current parts, but the context of this insect fantasy reduces them to a cartoon level.

Telson's danceable numbers often attain a sympathetic nobility belied by the lyrics, as in "An Ant Alone (is an Ant Afraid)."

The 10 members of Little Village (including several key performers from "Gospel at Colonus") gave thoroughly engaging, virtuosic performances of Telson's rich scores. Variety will become a problem, however, if the style remains constant through the entire show. Only "O Shadow," an unaccompanied gospel-flavored vocal quintet, and the dark, fateful "Each Time" greatly varied the prevailing Caribbean lilt.

The final performances in this short run are today at 2 and 8 p.m.

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