Ruthless

The Cameo Theater’s production of Joel Paley’s and Marvin Laird’s off-Broadway hit Ruthless! The Musical Comedy offers a diverse, if minimalistic, cast of women caught up in the horror of show business.

Main character Judy Denmark, portrayed by Katy Moore, proudly carries on her daily duties as the house wife, of Frederick (who is rarely, if ever, home) and mother of a budding superstar, eight-year-old Tina Denmark, played by Athena Boneta.  Moore and Boneta play off of each other very well.  While Moore presents an austere, “untalented” domestic servant, Boneta offers a vibrant and expressive portrayal of the Bad Seed-inspired starlet-to-be.  Despite her youth, Boneta effectively captures the ironies her role portrays. 

Returning to the Cameo family for the second time in just over a month, Greg Hinejosa appears as Sylvia St. Croix, and seemingly good-natured yet fame hungry talent agent who thinks Tina Denmark has a major chance at stardom.  Hinejosa delivers yet another dazzling performance as a power-mad woman.

The plot of Ruthless centers on Tina’s quest to become a theatrical star, and is convinced that the first vital step is winning the role of Pippi Longstocking in her school’s production of Pippi in Tahiti, an original piece written by Tina’s teacher.

Amanda Farmer, playing both school teacher Myrna Thorn and sexually ambiguous reporter Emily Block, delivers an impressive performance in both roles.  Her singing is markedly the best in the cast, and it is disappointing that she only sings solo for one song, Thorn’s anthem “Teaching Third Grade.”  Through the song, Farmer (as Thorn) metaphorically transforms from sultry Broadway hopeful to broken-down third-grade teacher, affecting through song the mood of both personalities. 

As Block, Farmer makes several sexual advances towards diva Ginger Del Marco (formerly Judy Denmark) which may confuse those unfamiliar with the play as to what gender Emily Block was originally cast.  Surprisingly, the show is traditionally all-female, and Block’s advances are meant to add to the play’s absurdity. 

The show is an amalgamation of several classic musicals and movies such as Gypsy and The Bad Seed. Those well-versed in musical theatre are likely to draw more entertainment from the show than a more casual theater fan.  The majority of the comedy comes from crude jokes and self-mockery of the musical theater world.

Despite the age of some of the cast members, profanity sneaks into various parts of the dialogue, and more than once is spoken by the younger players themselves. 
 

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