Celebrity Crush '03

Local Arts Reviews

Celebrity Crush 03: More Confessions of Obsession -- and Fun

Blue Theater, through March 29

Running Time: 1 hr, 45 min

Last year at about this time, the good folks at Refraction Arts Project presented Austin with a series of sketches and films concerning their obsessions with and fixations on various celebrities, old and new. The show proved to be so popular that, in the best Hollywood tradition, they decided to present this sequel. I was fortunate enough to see the original Celebrity Crush, and while I'm not fond of making comparisons, in this case I don't think it will hurt: The new version has as much to recommend it as the old.

A film by Dorothy VanDeCarr of Edmundo's audition for American Idol kicks off the evening. Edmundo is a 300-year-old male demi-vampire with an amazingly horrible complexion and worse teeth, dressed in formal wear and derby hat, brought to dapper life by Jennifer Haley. And yes, Edmundo actually does attempt to audition for American Idol. It's almost worth seeing the show just to see this film, as Edmundo, who is about as nonthreatening as a small woman dressed as a man can be, is stonewalled by someone who claims to be an American Idol producer and ends up being escorted from the premises by two policemen. The film certainly is more entertaining than anything I've seen on American Idol, and it's somehow comforting to discover that employees of the show really are no-class buttheads.

Sustaining sketch comedy for any extended period of time is a difficult proposition, and while the production has its down moments, there are so many highlights I don't have space to list them all. My favorites included "The List," written and performed by husband and wife Weldon Phillips and Martinique Duchene, in which each reads a list of celebrities with whom they can engage in sex, if they ever have the opportunity, without fear of reprisal from the other (Weldon really perks up when he discovers that Martinique has named some women along with her men); "You Do Know Betty Blackwell," in which Jeremy Carpenter stalks various Austin celebrities (don't worry though, Betty -- if you saw Jeremy, you'd know you have nothing to fear); "Connections," in which Robert S. Fisher regales us with a litany of coincidences concerning Tom Waits and Guided by Voices; and my personal highlight, "A Diva Loves a Diva," in which Kristine Olson channels Maria Callas, using an aria from Tosca. Reclining on a chaise for the length of the piece, Olson fills the Blue Theater with what was, for me, a surprisingly pure soprano voice, and while I would suggest that, when she uses her speaking voice, she might use that amazing instrument to better effect, she embodies divaness so thoroughly that I think she wouldn't care what I thought.

Don't go looking for something polished and loaded with production values, because you won't find that here. What you will find is a group of people who are having as much fun with each other as with the material they've chosen to present -- and that's a very good thing.

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Celebrity Crush '03, Refraction Arts Project, Dorothy VanDeCarr, American Idol, Edmundo, Jennifer Haley, Weldon Phillips, Martinique Duchene, Jeremy Carpenter, Betty Blackwell, Robert S. Fisher, Kristine Olson

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