Blonde on blonde

A Sunny girl reveals her roots.


Crepe de Paris Restaurant Rainier Square, 623-4111 $49 dinner and show $20 show only 9 p.m. Thurs.-Sun. ends Sun., Sept. 30

IT'S NOT a good thing to come out of a one-woman show telling yourself, "I'm sure she's a very nice person." That is, however, the required mantra after experiencing 7 Blondes, an alarmingly earnest cabaret tribute from a woman known only as "Sunny": She seems like a very nice person. A very nice person who took a wrong turn somewhere near Las Vegas—but still.

Sunny has a big smile, big blue eyes, big hair, and impersonates big stars Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, Dolly Parton, Madonna, Joan Rivers (um . . . ), and Britney Spears (don't ask). Sunny is the seventh blonde of 7 Blondes, although any time she greets the audience as herself in another bare-midriff ensemble, the tendency is to turn to your friend and ask, "Who's she playing now?" The show is flat and painfully ridiculous, yet she means it. She means it in a manner that's almost touching in its packaged purity. She means it just like heavyweight champ George Foreman means it at 2 a.m. on UPN when he tells you how proud he is of his Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine: You know she's basically selling you something cut-rate and plastic, but you can't deny she's happy about the product. And someone is going to buy it. (A woman behind me spent the evening exclaiming, "Isn't she darling?" and "Whatta voice!")

Sunny's press kit is more entertaining than Sunny's show (the woman behind me notwithstanding). This is the kind of press kit that critics cherish and quote at parties for the rest of their pathetic little lives. We learn that Sunny has gold records in Europe. We are told that "men love her, women can't wait to meet her, kids are crazy about her and young teenage girls think Sunny's 'the bomb.'" She has also just returned to the States "after a violent attempt on her life in Barcelona, which sent her back home to America and threatened to keep her from ever singing again." You can practically feel David Hasselhoff reflecting on his own European celebrity status and nodding sympathetically.

THE IMPERSONATIONS aren't bad. Sunny can sing, in the way that, say, Miss America can usually sing—it's a bright, pleasant voice that could probably cover "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" like no one's business. And she knows what there is to like about the women she's saluting: Mae West comes off best because Mae West was such a generous caricature anyway. But Sunny and her local director/producer husband Greg Thompson have foolishly placed Sunny in front of a large video screen that plays both picture and sound of the originals she's imitating. Now, to whom are you going to pay attention in a battle between Marilyn Monroe and someone who used to have her own theater in Branson, Mo.?

Everything about the tribute finally rings hollow because you know Sunny would like to include herself in this celebrated, peroxided group. That slick self-revelation—in one number, she sings, "I'll make a name . . . just you wait and see"—is discomfiting. It keeps the show from achieving the High Camp factor that would make it entertainingly stupefying. Our thoughts on the autobiographical second half of the show, in which Sunny communicates her personal triumphs ("The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain, the rain in Spain . . . Spain: That's where I went next. . . ."), are best left unspoken. And we'll just briefly mention the evening's cringing references to local sponsors, in which we are encouraged to believe that Joan Rivers salivates over the idea of shopping at the Bon March頨pronounced as though it were an expensive French pastry).

But I'm sure she's a very nice person.

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