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Varla Jean Merman (aka Jeffery Roberson) was so overcome by maternal feelings that she launched an educational show for children. The more orthodox sectors of our populace that went ballistic over the Teletubbies — afraid the odd creatures were homoerotic saboteurs intent on subverting family values — would not be the best audience for Varla Jean and the Mushroomheads!, which recently finished its debut run at Le Chat Noir. Fortunately, this nighttime kiddy show is not intended for youngsters.

  Varla's upbeat, satirical musical revue gives the saccharine-sweet juvenilia genre her own twist. It is full of devilish double entendres. "Billy licks a lolly/ Molly licks a lolly/ Lizzy licks a lolly" is a song she sings to teach the letter L, but it's also a raucous, racy pantomime in short pants.

  The Mushroomheads (Ricky Graham and Brooks Braselman) collaborated on the script, but Varla enhanced the work with many extemporaneous wisecracks, sometimes to cover slips and snafus. This mixture of tumult and poise added greatly to the fun. Donna Drake directed and choreographed the show. Tom Shaw accompanied on piano and Cecile Casey Covert created the flashy costumes.


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