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Fringe Festival 2008

Britney Spears Superstar

Musical comedy celebrates the tabloid pop princess more often than it sends her up.

Pictured: Molly Bell in character.

“Becoming Britney,” a musical comedy in the 12th annual Fringe Festival in New York, really doesn’t want to be much more than a love letter to Britney Spears, concluding as it does with a public relations agent-type suggestion that she might right her career by doing a musical.

If you’re going to do a musical comedy about Britney Spears, you really ought to have something more to say either about her, or about tabloid celebrity.

But the star who co-wrote “Becoming Britney,” Molly Bell (with Daya Curley), and the supporting players (Riette Burdick, Keith Pinto, Carrie Madsen, Alison Ewing and Sean Grady) certainly do sell this show well enough with real song and dance talent.

Occasionally we get a little more satiric edge in this show -- the height of which is a number where Britney dances one those sexy video vixen routines, but while pregnant, and then has the babies in the middle of the number and starts tossing them around with the backing dancers.

There are other little hints of parody -- such as the notion that Britney becomes as controlling as her mother was to her, with K-Fed, portrayed as lazy and getting high in the basement of their Britney-funded mansion. Or “The I Want Song” and/or Britney’s vacuous cluelessness in intervention and drug rehab clinic sessions between songs.

“The I Want Song” is as airy as its heroine, a pretty wafer-thin joke about the conventions of a musical and how Britney can’t even express what she might want at the point in this musical where the heroine typically would.

If Becoming Britney’s creators are aiming to give this show a life beyond Fringe Fest, they would be well-advised to punch up the parody in the plot and dialogue.

“Becoming Britney” has three more performances in the festival, August 15 at 9:45 p.m., August 19 at 5:15 p.m. and August 23 at 2:30 p.m. 



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