STAGE REVIEW : Plot Nearly Overthrows the Crazies : Show: The behind-the-scenes story about the singing DuBois Sisters is almost fatally plot-bound. But there's still room for chuckles and chortles.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Orange County Crazies introduced us to those inestimable entertainers the singing DuBois Sisters last year, with a skit featuring the sisters' request act: The diverse quartet would sing the song of your choice in any musical style you desired. The more challenging the combination, the bigger the laughs.

Apparently, the laughs were big enough to encourage the Crazies toward this latest script, "Ahhh . . . Those Lounge Swingin' DuBois Sisters!," which uses original music to tell the behind-the-scenes story of the sisters' lives, loves and ambitions. The show is so plot-bound that it nearly strangles itself, and it overtaxes the proven abilities of the Crazies as skit comedians; like sprinters running a marathon, they lose their wind over the long haul. But there is still a healthy quota of chuckles and chortles.

The sisters are a fun foursome, as different from each other as they can be. Lauri Johnson plays Lillian, the eldest, an opera buff with a wonderfully rubbery face and a permanently worried expression. Her strong, confident voice is a great plus. As Vivian, the jazz-loving, star-gazing bubblehead, Dee Dee Hanson sings with breathless aplomb. Her vacant looks and disconnected thoughts are big audience-pleasers.

LizAnne brings unusual depth to the tough-talking, hard-rocking Adrian in the only performance that has enough variety for the demands of the two-hour narrative. As Marian DuBois, Anji Limon is strongest during her moments of ad-libbing, when she is quick and inventive. At other times, her words get lost and her singing is tentative, although her big-eyed pout and hip-swinging attitude as the coolest of the sisters is effective caricature. Randall Dodge stands out among the swains as a fine singer and a delightful scene partner for LizAnne.

The staging by Cherie Kerr is surprisingly square, from the corny formality of the overture to the awkward sets and unimaginative use of the space. The lounge act itself, though, makes for a great finale; a tested success, it's an irresistible juggernaut of silliness. The rest of the show could use more of the good stuff that happens when production glitches force the performers suddenly to improvise. When the soda fizzes over, the real fun begins.

'AHH . . . THOSE LOUNGE SWINGIN' DUBOIS SISTERS!'

A Crazie/Go-Nuts Production. Produced and directed by Cherie Kerr. Story by Kerr. Script by Kerr, Dee Dee Hanson, Lauri Johnson, Anji Limon, LizAnne, and Gretchen Stahl. With Hanson, Johnson, Limon, LizAnne, Stahl, Ron Ruhman, Randall Dodge, Rich Flin and Ron McCaw. Musicians: David Di Iorio, Ronn Canzano, Jamie Bludworth. Performances on Saturday evenings only, June 15, 22 and 29 at 8 at the Century High School Theatre, 1401 S. Grand Ave., Santa Ana. Tickets: $10 in advance, $12.50 at the door. (714) 840-1406.

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