Volume 76, Number 45 | April 4 - 10, 2007

Comedy

“The Facts of Life: The Lost Episode”
Wednesdays at 8 p.m.
The Kraine Theater
85 East 4th Street
(212-352-3101; httheater.org/kraine)

Photo by Max Ruby

Just the facts, man.

Mrs. Garrett’s girls gone wild

“The Facts of Life” like you’ve never seen it before

By Will McKinley

The 1980s was truly the Golden Age of terrible TV sitcoms. And one of the worst offenders was “The Facts of Life.” (Before you write me angry letters, go watch the DVDs. Once you get past the theme song it’s all down hill.) Of course my little sister loved it, and so did her pre-pubescent girlfriends. But all I wanted to see was a hot make-out session between the prissy Blair and the tomboyish Jo. Twenty years later my adolescent dream has finally come true. Sort of.

Now playing at the Kraine Theater in the East Village, “The Facts of Life: The Lost Episode” transmogrifies the relentlessly moralistic original series into a raunchy, laugh-out-loud musical comedy with male actors inhabiting the familiar female roles.

Appropriately, the show begins with that chronically unforgettable theme song with sing-along accompaniment (at least on opening night) provided by every member of the audience. I fear that I will be 80 years old and unable to remember my own name, but able to sing “You take the good, you take the bad…” without thinking twice. And apparently I’m not alone.

As we return to the beloved Eastland Academy for Girls, pleasantly plump Natalie is studying her Sex Ed textbook while Blair brags about doing her homework with the boys. But something is rotten in Peekskill. Busybody Tootie discovers that Mrs. Garrett has fallen on hard financial times, so the girls come up with an ingenious get-rich-quick scheme. They transform the café called Edna’s Edibles into a sex shop called Edna’s Edible Panties, the display of chocolate chip cookies and pie replaced with black dildos and lube. Then Blair, Natalie, Tootie and Jo trade their schoolgirl uniforms for the finest in whore couture and compete to see who can turn the most tricks — and the one who wins by a landslide is not the one you’d think.

The action is peppered with elaborate numbers based upon the countrified Broadway classic “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” with the cast singing and dancing in high heels, schoolgirl attire and various stages of simulated coital activity. As they used to say back in the ’80s, it is a “very special episode.”

The talented cast is led by Jamie Morris, who wrote the show and does a pitch-perfect Charlotte Rae impersonation as bawdy housemother Mrs. Garrett. His sing-songy line readings and scene-ending freeze takes are smart parody at its best. Christopher Kenney plays the snobbish Blair as an unapologetically promiscuous nympho in a fiercely feathered Farrah wig. Janquay Thomas’s jive talking, roller-skating Tootie owes as much to Flip Wilson as it does to Kim Fields. Charlie Logan swaggers appropriately as the comically butchy Jo, arguably primetime television’s first lesbian (excluding Bea Arthur). And Brooks Braselman (who also wrote the lyrics) is a tasty treat as Natalie, pervy Headmaster Reynolds and Blair’s cerebral palsy-afflicted, stand-up comedian cousin Geri. Yes, they go there girl.

Before it’s all over, the greatest unrequited love affair in the history of television is finally consummated — to the screaming delight of the live audience. Like every other episode of “Facts,” this one has a happy ending. Multiple happy endings.


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