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Child star goes nuts
Child star goes nuts
by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

WHAT'VE WE DONE TO BABY JANE?
PERFORMED BY IMOGENE LOVE, LISA SANPHILLIPPO AND KEVIN MESHER
REBAR
THROUGH NOVEMBER 17


Technical delights highlight this odd production at the Rebar. Little filmed moments project some of the story, and narrate the progress of the evening. It's a very enjoyable trick. Another funny item is the naming of the characters of what their stage directions are: "Slam" as they slam an invisible door, "Dialing" when they're, well, dialing. There are wonderful puppets introducing the production.

At first, we seem to be led toward a spoof of the movie, "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?" with Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Two aging film-acting sisters live together in an old Hollywood mansion. "Baby" Jane Hudson had been a successful child star whose sister, Blanche, eclipsed Jane's career when Blanche was able to become an adult star. Blanche has been crippled by a car accident and Baby Jane has had to care for her. They are both living on their historical personae.

As it continues, it becomes much more an homage than a spoof. All of these actors are experienced comic actors, known around town for many funny performances. Their mastery of the form is clear.

As an homage, it's enjoyable, but not revolutionary. Lisa Sanphillippo seems to be doing an impression of Bette Davis in the movie, rather than creating her own Baby Jane. I wondered how much wilder it might get if she cut loose and created a whole new Baby Jane. Since Baby Jane is the main focus, her antics set the tone for the production. If they untied themselves from the movie, they could also cut it a bit shorter by cutting a few movie details that don't add that much to the story.

Beyond that, there are a lot of laughs. The Bette Davis homage is definitely funny. Imogene's tortured Blanche anchors the story and her eyebrows are not to be missed. The show fits snuggly in with the kinds of events the Rebar loves to host. A few mixed drinks go down smoothly with the hokey production for a funny, relaxed evening.

For more information, go to www.rebarseattle.com or call 206-233-9873 or go to www.brownpapertickets.com. Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.
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photos by Joey - SGN photographer

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