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She's Out Of Control

UCB's "Showgirls" parody star gets a showcase for a gamut of characters.

Lennon Parham, in and out of character as "Sandy Michaelson."

In her new solo sketch comedy show, Lennon Parham, an improv performer in the UCB Theatre’s Reuben Williams group, and previously The Shoves (see feature), as well as the star of the theater’s 2006 parody of “Showgirls,” (see review) gets to do wildly disparate characters, each of which she gives more depth and specific heightened comedic traits than she could show playing Nomi Malone.

In “She Tried To Be Normal,” seen March 26, and returning at least twice more in April, Parham frames segments featuring six different characters with yet another character, a spacey overnight radio DJ, Forsythia, reading listener letters and dispensing bad advice. It’s an effective device, as some of the letters come from characters that Parham soon conjures up in person.

Parham’s two most vivid characters in the show, a country singer with a tale of woe that outdoes anyone else in the genre, and a hapless stuck in the 1980s dance instructor, win this distinction because her writing of these characters’ segments heightens and tops their outlandishness with nearly every line.

The pieces of Parham’s show are partly put together through a complex succession of music cues, stemming from the Forsythia character’s segments, and that is all well-directed and produced. Additionally, Parham makes great use of the UCB stage and space as another character, a co-ed who becomes obsessed with a professor, stalking offstage and yelling threats from out of view. She also gets to show off singing chops in another piece, playing a 1950s housewife -- but also deploying that same hair-trigger insanity to show all is not as easy as it might have seemed.

At a point or two, Parham’s voice was a little too low and didn’t project enough, and perhaps just one of the pieces in the show seemed a little disjointed, but overall, she delivers more than enough to earn an extended standing ovation at this performance.

“She Tried To Be Normal” returns to the UCB Theatre April 16 and 30.




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