“The Facts of Life: The Lost Episode” is loud.
The randy, rowdy, raunchy show (“play” is much too precious, and “comedy” doesn’t begin to cover it) bangs and booms in the cozy, black-box theater Empire Stage in Fort Lauderdale as the cast gives a sinfully good send-up of the 1980s-era sitcom.
You’d think delivering every punch line at maximum decibel level would get tiresome, but you would be wrong. We need the sonic blast to put us back there, to remind us just how fizzy that family-friendly humor was and how it bludgeoned the jokes in a desperate bid to trick us into thinking we were having as much fun as the characters on the TV screen.
That’s not a problem with this adults-only fare. First of all, the entire cast of female characters is played by men in drag. Take a moment. Let the significance of that sink in.
Second, the playwright — no, let’s call him what he is — the parodist Jamie Morris has packed so many laughs into his show that even when some of the weaker cast members underplay a line, it isn’t really missed. There simply isn’t time.
Morris — whose other titles include “Re-Designing Women,” “Silence of the Clams” and “Mommie Queerest — plays Mrs. Garrett, and he plays her full throttle, warbling and trilling to beat the band. Imagine, if you can, the Dowager Countess of Grantham on “Downton Abbey.” Now, instead of the crisp Dame Maggie Smith playing the part, picture a burlesque queen, and you’ll just about have it.
Plot, schmlot. The show’s framework is that budget cuts at Eastland boarding school have threatened Mrs. Garrett’s job as dorm mother, and the girls in her charge will do anything — seriously, anything — to raise money to save it. Like turning their dorm into a brothel and replacing the desserts in Mrs. Garrett’s pie shop (much is made of Mrs. Garrett’s pie) with dildos.
David Tracy as Blair, Charles Logan as Jo and Shawn Burgess as Tootie all have their moments, but it is Brooks Braselman as Natalie who takes the show into the silly stratosphere. Pulling double, nay, triple duty, Braselman also plays the show’s villain, a lecherous headmaster, and co-wrote the parody lyrics with Morris (cribbing shamelessly from “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”).
Oh, yeah, it’s a bit of a musical, too. For 90 minutes including a 15-minute intermission, you’ll get your money’s worth from this filthy and funny blast.
“The Facts of Life: The Lost Episode” runs through Aug. 4 at Empire Stage, 1140 N. Flagler Drive, in Fort Lauderdale. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays (no performance on July 4) and 5 p.m. Sundays. Tickets cost $30. Call 954-678-1496 or go to EmpireStage.com.Copyright © 2015, South Florida