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'Lounge-Zilla' can be fun, but it's no monster hit

The notion of a lounge-act parody isn't exactly novel: Consider Bill Murray's smarmy crooner on "Saturday Night Live" or, more recently, Chris Kattan as Mango. Fiely A. Matias's persona in "Lounge-Zilla: Asian Sings the Blues" -- part of the Theater Offensive's 13th annual Out on the Edge Festival of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Theater -- blends aspects of the two, without, alas, the panache of either. It's a fun premise that ultimately fizzles.

Though he affects an in-your-face (or perhaps lap) stance vis a vis the audience, Matias in full performance mode comes across as curiously subdued for a self-proclaimed diva. Playing a petulant egotist, he repeatedly opts for what a director would call "down choices" (a closed, defensive posture; super-quiet song endings), and he never really lets his perfectly good voice rip. He uses it mostly as a device: descending to a soulful bass, for instance, as his upper body is busy channeling Lillian Gish. His choice of costumery is just strange: He spends a good portion of the 80-minute show clad in a floral-print woman's bathing suit strategically adorned with a fake orchid. The need to "water" the flower provides some belabored sight gags and a forced audience-participation op. Good-natured fun? Not really.

Partner/accompanist Dennis T. Giacino's songs, though clever enough, don't cohere in a comprehensive through-line. Perhaps this is asking too much: It's cabaret, after all, meant to be ingested in a freewheeling, alcohol-enhanced setting, whereas we're sitting in rigid rows, waiting to be entertained. As Matias peppers Giacino with bitchy badinage ("All of his songs basically sound the same," Matias complains -- all too true), we get a sampler, including "I'll Be Here for You (The Stalking Song)," "Squaw Girl" (protesting Disney's double D-ification of Pocahontas), and the capper, "I'm a Teenage Mutant Boy Scout."

Individually, each of these numbers works; it's the interstices that seem aimless and shapeless -- with one exception. Matias's sneering verbal abuse of a lowly (and uncredited) stagehand is truly transgressive -- and funny.

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