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CABARET REVIEW : The Perines Imitate the ‘60s Scene at the Cinegrill

When life can imitate melodrama as effectively as it has in the recent history of, say, Jim and Tammy Bakker, or Joan Collins and what’s ‘is name, why shouldn’t an entertainment act reverse the process?

The Perines, opening at the Cinegrill Friday night made a good case for doing precisely that. Pompadoured, hair-sprayed and over-dressed, looking as tacky as a trio of aging Barbie Dolls (with Ken), Francine, Darlene and Gene Perine were the epitomy of everything that was glitz, flash and superficial about pop music in the early ‘60s.

But if the Perines were only that, if all they did was create an effective ambiance for such embalmed memorabilia as “The Beat Goes On,” “This Diamond Ring,” “Georgy Girl” and “What’s New, Pussycat?” the trio would be little more than a costumed revivalist act.

Fortunately, they appeared to have a somewhat more fascinating intent. Playing the fictional role of a famly group whose success in the ‘60s (at the ages of two, four and six) led to high living and a fast breakup, the Perine’s performance was presented as a come-back, their first time on stage together in decades.

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As the trio moved from one ancient hit to another, cracks of deterioration began to appear in their pancaked and rhinestoned facade. Little things--like Francine’s difficulty in coping with real life since she got out of the institution; the strangely unfraternal relationship between Darleen and Gene; and Darleen’s inability to keep her hands off any male within easy reach.

The premise worked, for the most part. The Perine’s act is, after all, only one more variation on the classic “42nd Street” backstage story--and a strange one at that.

But the group needs to punch up the jokes, work on their timing and do a little judicious rewriting. In a world in which the 11:00 o’clock news frequently has more drama than a 10:00 o’clock prime time episode, the Perines--like Jim and Tammy--could use a good story editor.

The Perines continue at the Cinegrill(sp?) on Friday and Saturday nights through December, with the exception of the 25th. They will do a special New Year’s Eve show on Thursday, Dec. 31. Showtimes are at 9 and 11.

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