On Stage

Capsule reviews of current area stage shows.

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The Girl Next Door
Five Guys Named Moe -- This rousing musical revue is built upon a story line (by Clarke Peters) that's scrawny as a Depression-era chicken. A fellow named No Max, having recently split with his gal, is lost in his blues and mired in whiskey when five zoot-suited gentlemen -- named No Moe, Eat Moe, Big Moe, Little Moe, and Four-Eyed Moe -- arrive to dispense musical advice on matters relating to pettin', pokin', drinkin', and messin' around. But it's the songs, re-creations of works by jazz legend Louis Jordan, that surprise and amuse, despite their often dated lyrics. Dressed in neon hues and eye-popping saddle shoes, the mighty Moes leap from one foot-stomping jingle to another. The diamond in this cast of lesser gems is Kyle Primous's No Max, who croons "Early in the Morning" in a voice so rich with despair that it almost seems otherworldly. Through April 10 at Beck Center, 17801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 26-521-2540. -- Christine Howey

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change -- The promotional material dubs this musical revue "Seinfeld set to music." But in reality, it's more like The Bachelor set to a metronome, with predictable book and lyrics by Joe DiPetro and a mechanically repetitive musical score by Jimmy Roberts. Just pick your courtship cliché, and there's a song to address it, whether it be the serious shortage of desirable single men or the characteristics of testosterone-poisoned males who date chicks. The first act focuses on the foibles of the dating scene, and the second plumbs about an inch or two into the depths of marital misunderstandings. It's rescued by some amusing dating and family-life jibes, and a cast of Cleveland-based performers that squeezes every ounce of good humor out of what, in lesser hands, would come off as threadbare material. Larry Nehring, in particular, is a delight to watch in every role, from dazed boyfriend one moment to TV huckster the next. Through June 27 at the 14th Street Theater, 2037 East 14th St., 216-241-6000. -- Howey

Oliver Twisted -- It has been claimed that there's a gene in some people's DNA spiral that compels them to seek out risky, potentially harmful activities, such as rock climbing, deep-sea diving, and parking at expired meters in Cleveland Heights. True to their risk-adoring genes, the seven-member group titled Oliver Twisted (made up of former members of the now-defunct Second City Cleveland) does audience-inspired material exclusively, without the safety net of scripted modules. And thanks to a fortunate blending of physical types and personalities among the performers -- along with their determined insistence on yanking every loose comedic thread -- this is an improv experience that will leave you laughing far more often than wincing. The troupe's resident nutcase, Randall Harr, is a fairly normal-looking fellow who transforms into a maniacally, often hilariously intense embodiment of whatever animal, vegetable, or mineral he's been assigned. Mondays at Hilarities Comedy Club at Pickwick & Frolic, 2035 East Fourth Street, 216-736-4242. -- Howey

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