Perhaps I might have enjoyed “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” set to the melody of “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” Or “I Am Woman” reinterpreted as “I Am Cougar” (“hear me roar, watch out if you’re 24”). Or a rewritten “Bohemian Rhapsody” (“mama mia, mama mia” becoming “tubby hubby, tubby hubby”).
I’d quote more. If I’d heard more.
Such is the frustration of Divorce Party Las Vegas at Bally’s, which takes its greatest assets—clever original lyrics set to pop/Broadway standards—and smothers them in blaring backing tracks so that what’s likely a smorgasbord of wit is reduced to only bite-size whimsy.
Making us work for our entertainment by straining to suss out the words, as if the fun is up there and we have to jump for it? C’mon, JUMP! Using divorce-court lingo, this is alienation of audience affection.
What’s left? One embarrassingly hokey (and frequently crude) show about women untethered at middle age (but juvenile in spirit, referring to vaginas as “va-jay-jays” and “hoo-hahs.” Yes, it’s that sophisticated.)
Synopsis: Linda (Kelly Ward) lost her guy to a guy. This enables lazy gay one-liners (“he always struck me as kind of anal”) and avoids vilifying a woman as “the other.” Cue the “party” and partiers with a certain commonality: the sassy hetero-turned-lesbian hot blonde (Robin Berry Vincent), the sassy black gal pal (Michelle Johnson) and the sassy statuesque brunette (Jacquelyn Holland-Wright). Together, they comfort and cajole soon-to-be-sassy Linda to let her hoo-hah get its yah-yahs out (enter the musical ode to vibrators of various kinky permutations under the name “Bob,” i.e. Battery-Operated Boyfriend.)
Streaming through this over-aged sorority soiree: a Valley Boy-ish pizza delivery guy, a swishy makeover guru (sparking the number, “Gay Guys Are a Girl’s Best Friend”), a male stripper and a parrot puppet (which croaks, “Suck it, bitch”).
Plus Linda’s ex-boyfriend, “Hyman Finkelstein,” who rides in on a motorcycle wearing a yarmulke and leather jacket with a Star of David on the back. Naturally, this cues the strains of “My Boyfriend’s Back,” rephrased as “My Hyman’s Back.” From what little I could make out over bullying instrumental tracks, the lyrics were amusing. I think.
Unfortunately, the game performers at the center of this chick-o-rama can’t make an adolescent script click. There are enough genuine laughs to justify a 10-minute sketch—stretched to 80. Catching snatches of original lyrics, it’s evident that’s where the show creators were rockin’ their mojo. Sophomoric gags that crash in spoken word can soar in parody songs. Incongruity is funny, and infusing recognizable melodies with outlandish lyrics is a potent comedy weapon. That’s where this show’s hook is intended to be—and isn’t because of self-sabotage.
Advice: Downplay recorded tracks or pare down accompaniment to a pianist. Bust the lyrics out of their aural prison. Don’t—forgive the expression—divorce this show from the only element that saves it.
Everything you’ve read carries a caveat: Your reviewer is not the target demo. Ditto half the population. Producers should post a sign at the door: “Va-jay-jays required.”
Got an entertainment tip? Email Steve.Bornfeld@VegasSeven.com.