As a middle-vintage baby boomer, I'm too young to have seen burlesque . . . err . . . in the flesh, but I sure got a delightful dose of it at the Annapolis Dinner Theater's production of "Sugar Babies."
Sexy, incessant, unsubtle, anarchic, off-color, peppy, physical -- pick an adjective you like and enjoy, because this is a show and a cast that will "give ya that boom-boom right in the eye" and leave you wanting more.
The "Top Banana" emcee role in "Sugar Babies" is truly a license to steal, and Dan Higgs is a larcenist of the first order.
He is avery funny man who mugs his way shamelessly through shtick and thin, leaving convulsive laughter in his wake. Whether a foul-mouthed schoolboy, an oversexed countess or a "tummler" kibitzing with the crowd, Higgs never lets go of his audience. Facial expressions, deft timing, a natural gift of gab -- he's got it all.
Dotti Mach, his female counterpart, is also great fun to watch. A Michelle Lee look-alike, she, too, is a nifty sketch player who knows what to do with a line in her school room and as the world's most ill-fated opera singer. Shealso hoofs up a storm.
Alas, her singing voice is not really up to par. She's got the belty, brash style down pat, but the musical substance eludes her.
Now-you-see-it, now-you-don't vibrato is a tried and true emotive technique, but it just doesn't work when the singer is a quarter-tone flat.
In the Annapolis Dinner Theater tradition, the supporting players are delightful. God created Stan Morrow to do burlesque shtick and David Reynolds was terrific as everyone's straight man.
I also enjoyed Carol Cohen's rendition of a 1930s Goldie Hawn.
The nine singers and dancers of the "Sugar Babies" chorus line were also a treat to see and hear. They started a bit slowly -- a few were watching their feet and just mouthing the words of "Louisiana" -- but when they hit stride, there was no stopping them.
One ensemble member, Mary Armour, is particularly deserving of notice. Her vocal, facial and choreographic energy never flagged, not even at intermission when she bellowed "Happy Birthday" to some of her celebrating customers with no let up whatsoever. She and her colleagues really lighted up the room.
There was nothing slapstick or slap-- about the menu, which included chicken poached in white wine and cream, spinach souffle and fresh shrimp, mussels and clams in a peppery marinara sauce served over linguine.
As Rodney Dangerfield would say: "Hey, at my age, food has replaced sex anyway. I'm having a mirror installed over my kitchen table."
But I wanna tell ya, folks . . .
"Sugar Babies" continues at the Annapolis Dinner Theatre, 339 Revell Highway, Route 50, Annapolis, through March 10.
Ticket prices are $25.50 per person on Thursday nights; $28.50 on Fridays; Saturday shows are $29.75. The Sunday brunch matinee is $23.50.
Special group rates are available any night or for the Sunday brunch matinee for groups of 25 people or more.
The next Wednesday matinee is Feb. 20 at noon. Tickets are $23.50 and senior citizens pay $19.80 per ticket, including tax.
There is also a season subscription rate of six shows for the price of four for groups of two or more. Write to The Annapolis Dinner Theatre, 339 Revell Highway, Annapolis, 21401 or call 757-9450.