An ordinary, talentless housewife; a strong-willed, manipulative child “born to entertain”; and a glory seeking, has-been longing to return to the spotlight make up the delightfully dysfunctional dynasty of “Ruthless! The Musical,” Ennis Public Theatre’s latest production.
Show times are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:30 p.m. Sundays now through Aug. 9.
Biting satire of the life of fame is only part of what drives this musical mummery. Vainglorious ambition in the world of entertainment also rears its ugly head. Any unseemliness is made palatable through generous servings of scrumptious song, delectable dialogue and appetizing antics. The splendid set and sound cues complete a sensory feast that makes “Ruthless!” a must-see.
In her Ennis Public Theatre debut, Brianna Roberts charms as Judy Denmark, a mother and housewife worthy of Donna Reed’s envy. Roberts seamlessly transitions from selfless homemaker to pampered prima donna, becoming the exclamation point to the play’s theme. She has a vibrant voice and skillfully performs a generous helping of musical numbers.
Angi Mas turns in a fine performance as Sylvia St. Croix, a seasoned actress perfectly at home in the back-stabbing world of the stage. Mas adds just the right amount of wit, and her exceptional vocal talents leave the audience hungry for more.
Replete with Shirley Temple curls (except that they are brunette and not blond), Maddie Munn delights with her coquettish manipulations as the self-centered enfant terrible Tina. Munn does such a fantastic job of inhabiting the persona of an 8-year-old that one wonders whether she will ever grow up (just kidding, Maddie—about the growing up, that is).
Mollie Slovacek adroitly captures the comic pathos of Miss Thorn, the embittered third-grade teacher longing for the spotlight she was never able to attain. She later presents an effective “straight man” as Emily Block, the reporter from “Modern Thespian.”
Kathryn Ivey’s all-too-brief appearance as the overindulged Louise Lerman, the annoying talentless girl who gets lead roles by parental payoff, convinces the audience she almost deserved her fate. Fortunately for the audience, Ivey’s sharp comedic skills are again displayed in her portrayal of Eve, yet another wannabe star willing to cross the line to get a part.
Playing Lita Encore, Joan Tyler brilliantly embodies the quintessential critic whose job is to hate everything. Her on-stage cattiness offers ample opportunity for laughs and her rendition of “I Hate Musicals” adeptly anchors the musical to its central theme.
Directing kudos go to Shelley Aubrey for assembling a stellar cast and serving up this delectable dish.
For a delicious taste of off-Broadway fare, reserve your seat now at the Ennis Public Theatre table. For reservations, call 972 878-7529 or visit at www.ennispublictheatre.com.
Editor’s note: J Niswonger loves community theatre and has performed on the Ennis Public Theatre stage.