MARTIN SHORT: FAME BECOMES ME by Short, Daniel Goldfarb, Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, directed by Wittman (Mirvish/Base Entertainment). Runs to July 2. $30-$99. 416-872-1212. See Continuing, page 97. Rating: NN Rating: NN
If Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me were a satiric musical revue at a modest cocktail lounge, it wouldn't be bad. If it were an hour-long TV variety special (good idea, actually), it'd be hit-and-miss - but, hey, it'd be free, and you could channel surf during the boring parts. But as a two-and-a-half-hour, Broadway-bound show with a top ticket price of $99, it's disappointing.
Too bad, because it's hard to not like Short himself, the impish, ageless clown from SCTV, the Father Of The Bride films and numerous Broadway successes. With his hard-boiled-egg cheekbones, impeccable timing (really, we're talking about to the nano-second) and gift for song and impersonation, he's a born entertainer. You can tell he loves the business and wants to share that love with us.
The show opens with a retro number with guests discussing "a party with Marty," after which Short reminisces about his gather-round-the-piano holiday bashes in L.A. He wants to let us in on some of those inspired moments. Sounds good! Bring it on!
But soon we're bombarded with premises for other shows, among them a postmodern critique of tacky one-person plays, a send-up of the Broadway musical and (least successful) a fictionalized version of Short's life.
The result, especially in the rambling and mostly unfunny first act, feels like an awkward mix of Forbidden Broadway and a bad autobiographical Fringe show.
A send-up of religious musicals hits its dayglo mark. A recreation of the baby singing scene from The Band Wagon, all about "big titties," doesn't. And let's not even mention a repeated bit about an Upper East Side theatregoer and her black maid.
It's in the second act that things get cooking. When Short dons mock-celebrity-interviewer Jiminy Glick's fat suit to chat up a member of the audience, he's deliriously over the top.
And there's lots of cleverness in a number mocking the tradition of musicals giving a "big black lady" a show-stopping number, mimicked after Dreamgirls' And I'm Telling You.
The show's set to open in New York in a couple of months, which is appropriate. Only a theatre-fanatic audience will get all the references, which range from Stephen Sondheim to Michael Bennett.
But some major editing will have to occur unless the backers really want a - sorry, folks - Short run.