When a friend of mine laughs at something inappropriate, he punctuates his howls by saying, "That is so wrong." Allow me: Lil' Bush is SO wrong.
Lil' Bush is a cartoon by Donick Cary (The Simpsons) that imagines little George W. as a grade-schooler in tie, jacket and short pants, palling around with Lil' Cheney, Lil' Rummy (voice by Iggy Pop) and Lil' Condi in an institution where the student body also includes Lil' Bill and Hillary and other adversaries. Lil' Bush and the gang have misadventures and misunderstandings that lead to, among other things, Barbara Bush seducing Lil' Cheney because Poppy Bush hasn't been giving her enough "rides on Air Force One," if you catch her drift. What happens next? Barbara ends up having an abortion in a clinic where Lil' Hillary works after school "just for fun."
Lil' Bush is an equal-opportunity defamer, but the Republicans get the worst of it. The media, portrayed as easy dupes, don't fare too well, either. (10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Comedy Central)
— Marc D. Allan
Glengarry Glen Ross
It's a dog-eat-dog world, and commission-only salesmen are our economy's hand-to-mouth hunter/gatherers. David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross captures that industry so perfectly that its iconic characters are still referenced in training seminars. But why drag yourself to the theater when the all-star film sits on the DVD shelf? Because Mad Cow's stellar cast, under the sure direction of Alan Bruun and Robin Olson, markets Mamet's Machiavellian meditations with such full-throated mastery that you can't help but think, "Pacino who?"
Unlike the somewhat-fleshy screenplay, the play is stripped to the bone: no Alec Baldwin "steak knives" aria here. The Glengarry real estate sales leads are the MacGuffin that four sales-sharks (Michael Edwards, Don Fowler, Stephen Lima, Ron McDuffie) salivate for. One is hungry enough to burgle their inept office manger (Joel Warren) for the leads. The first act, set in the local "Chink restaurant" (a minimalist set featuring the Chinese characters for "win," "lose" and "total destruction") is a trio of elliptical expository exchanges. The second is a breakneck buffet of backstabbing at the neighboring boiler room (dilapidated design by Michael Montgomery) that barrels to the knife-turning denouement.
Mastering Mamet-speak is trickier than Shakespeare, as the cast will readily admit, so it's thrilling how natural they make his frenetic fractured syntax sound. Edwards makes sad-sack Shelly Levene (inspiration for The Simpsons' Gil Gunderson) sympathetic and repellent in equal measure. And Fowler's Ricky Roma is seductively human, making his volcanic rage that much more searing when it erupts. An evening with these predators and you'll be signing for eight mountain-view units. (7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday, through July 1, at Mad Cow Theatre, Stage Left; $24; 407-297-8788; www.madcowtheatre.com)
— Seth Kubersky
Blue Man Group
The boys in blue have invaded Orlando, and we don't mean the OPD. In case you missed the eerie I-4 billboards and omnipresent radio spots, the world-renowned Blue Man Group has found a permanent place for their percussive performance art at Universal Studios. Last Wednesday's opening gala was such a smash that even torrential rain couldn't dampen the audience's spirits — though the free-flowing blue martinis didn't hurt.
BMG's new home in the renovated Nickelodeon soundstage (I won't call it the Sharp AQUOS Theatre until I get my free 70-inch plasma) is impressively high-tech and more intimate than their Vegas digs — best seats are in the center of Zone 2. The show is a generous 105-minute helping of their greatest hits, enhanced with fun new segments. Veterans will recognize many of their signature sequences — splashing paint, spitting gumballs, rock-star satire — while virgins are best off diving blind into the sloppy absurdism. There's even social commentary behind the silliness, though they miss the opportunity to mock the theme parks. By the toilet-paper finale, even the most cynical will be on their feet.
The show soars on the skills of the crack cast, led by returning local Anthony Parrulli and their blistering backing band. It might not be as re-watchable as Cirque du Soleil (their closest competition), but at $40 cheaper than La Nouba's top ticket, it's a better value. (seatings at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. daily, through July 13, then times change, at Sharp AQUOS Theatre, Universal Orlando Resort; $59-$69; 407-363-8000; www.universalorlando.com)
American Voices: An Evening of One-Acts
One and one and one can equal more. Director Erin Miner has found an intriguing path through three unrelated pieces by big names in American stagecraft: Thornton Wilder, William Inge and Tennessee Williams.
Wilder's unfinished Emporium introduces Mr. Foster's (John Palmer) orphanage, with its literarily named wards. Young John Foster (Christopher Taylor) finds placement at a local farm, but the owners (Palmer and Dawn Wicklow) look suspiciously like the Fosters. It's more abuse, but he's pointed in his next direction — a mysterious store we never see.
We next visit Inge's The Tiny Closet, where Mr. Newbold (Palmer) contends with his landlady (Wicklow) over the sanctity of his rented closet. Nosiness wins out and his secret is revealed. It's harmless enough, but not so harmless that he doesn't become an object of fear and loathing.
Finally, Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen by Williams wanders down a hallucinatory path as Christopher Taylor and Rebecca Brillhart writhe in mental anguish and their underwear, whining over a bad mix of love and rejections. Nobody screams "Stella," but it's a pleasant ending to this contemplation on the existential dilemma. You have no control over how you get here, what people really think of you and how to deal with what might be love. Get over it. (8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, through July 8 at Mad Cow Theatre, Stage Right; $20; 407-297-8788; www.madcowtheatre.com)firstname.lastname@example.org