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STAGE REVIEW : Revised ‘Inquest’ Tells Familiar Story

Loosely based--some would say irresponsibly so--on the life and lurid L.A. motel murder of the late superstar vocalist Sam Cooke, “Inquest” is a potpourri of ingredients that defy logic at the Ebony Showcase.

Part lounge act, part foul-mouthed courtroom histrionics, part comedy, part buffoonery, the production was originally staged in a bloated version in an adjunct theater at the Ebony last December under the title “Attraction Fatal.”

Writer/director Jerry Jones, in this reincarnation, has added a well known name (La Wanda Page of “Sanford and Son” fame) to the 18-member cast and wisely axed scenes and musical numbers to a workable length.

It’s an improved show, but still outrageous, sleazy and, at infrequent moments, bizarrely funny, thanks largely to newcomer Page. She earns the biggest laughs as the trash-mouthed motel manager who claims self-defense in gunning down the skirt-chasing Cooke character (fictionalized as Kenny Drew by robust singer Harold Burr). Vay Gainer’s voluptuous hooker, seen luring the Cooke character to his fate, is a riotous match for Page at the loony inquest.

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This is a show for the indiscriminate. Imagine 20 years from now when somebody turns Marvin Gaye’s death into a musical.

At 4720 Washington Blvd., Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sundays, 7:30 p.m., indefinitely. $22.50. (213) 857-0974.


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