Dirty Blonde is a salute to Mae West … Why don’t you go up and see it sometime?
Theatre patrons heading to the Cygnet Theatre in Old Town to see “Dirty Blonde” are in for two treats: a fantastic cast keeps the laughs com- ing and fans of Mae West will love remembering her and learning more about this iconic Hollywood star. After seeing the show, it’s no wonder it was nominated for five Tony Awards in 2000. Stepping into the big shoes of the sultry West is Melinda Gilb. She’s known around town from roles in “Walter Cronkite is Dead,” and “The Receptionist.”
With a few tricks of the trade, Gilb bears a slight resemblance to West, but it’s also her remarkable physicality and lovely voice that make West seem alive and in-person in every scene. Gilb nails the songs along with that famous deep voice that delivers those zingy double-entendres. Gilb also reminds us, in no uncertain terms, that West made her own decisions and bowed to no one.
West had an attitude that may have shorted her career in films, but gave her a voice, whether righting injustices or playfully revealing what she really thought through those infamous quotes.
At the beginning of the play, Jo (also Gilb), a West fan, goes to the cemetery to wish her a Happy Birthday.
There she meets another fan, Charlie (Steve Gunderson). Soon the two are sharing memories and becoming friendlier over stories they tell each other. Jo remarks, “She made things stand up that never had feet.”
As the friendship of Jo and Charlie deepens, the audience is treated to more facts about West’s life, hu- mor from the unlikely discoveries Jo and Charlie make, and the actors’ fantastic portrayals. Since Char- lie works in film archives, he makes an alluring friend to super-fan Jo.
Gilb and Gunderson worked together before in “SUDS-The Musical” and “The Melinda and Steve Show.” Gundeson has many creative talents and he handles the role of Charlie like he’s played it for years. At times he’s coy, at others anxious, and occasionally surprising. Every time, it’s fun to see such a professional transformation.
Rounding out this terrific cast is David McBean, who not only is the music direc- tor for the show, but also plays a host of characters, including West’s close friend. McBean narrates, sings, dances, prances and that’s only the beginning. He’s so good, one could almost see him doing a one-man show.
The set is minimal, but no one notices because it’s these three stars who keep every eye on them. The cos- tumes, tales, innuendos, songs, even a wrestling match in “Dirty Blonde,” all come together for great entertainment for mature audiences.
If you go
■ What: The musical ‘Dirty Blonde’
■ When: Matinees, evenings to June 17
■ Where: Cygnet Theatre Company, Old Town Stage, 4040 Twiggs St., San Diego
■ Tickets: $29-$44
■ Box Office: (619) 337-1525
■ Website: cygnettheatre.com
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