Entertainment

'Charlotte Squawks' packed with fresh targets

Blackhawk Hardware gets a friendly shout-out.

The Firebird on the Arch receives an approving nod.

Otherwise, "Charlotte Squawks 2011: 7-Year Bit©#" is a swift kick in the class of this would-be world-class city.

The seventh edition of this wicked homegrown roast, which opened Friday at Booth Playhouse, chops up our love of barbecue and NASCAR, deposits scorn on our banks and puts a major-league hurtin' on our wobbling sports teams. It then proceeds to deliver sidelong punches to overblown national celebrities, unseemly trends and corporate creeps.

The show is an equal opportunity employer and offender. "Squawks" begins with a witty videotaped short starring host Mike Collins and former Republican Mayor Pat McCrory; later on, current Democratic Mayor Anthony Foxx adds some deadpan humor. Our city is teased for winning the Democratic National Convention, but it would have been teased just as hard had it not won the convention. (And it will be teased again next summer, when the convention comes.)

Attorney Brian Kahn contributed the scurrilous, sassy and frequently obscene parody songs for the seventh year, as well as the book. (Here, that mostly means Collins' and Beth Troutman's crisply timed "Squawks News" segments.)

Some of the targets are already dated: Donald Trump stopped mattering when he decided not to run for president, and you can't make a joke out of Charlie Sheen, because he is a joke. (Or maybe mentally ill.)

Yet most gibes hit fresh targets and sting, including an up-to-the-week dig at Peter Gorman's job at right-wing News Corp's education division. ("This is like working in al-Qaida's community service division.")

Take this number mocking County Manager Harry Jones' invulnerability in the face of staggering public discontent. And sing along, if you know the tune of "It's a Jolly Holiday" from Disney's "Mary Poppins:"

"Oh, it's a money giveaway with Harry;

Harry is the gravy train.

Tell him that your lawsuit will be scary,

Harry makes the mulah rain!

He'll never face the wrath of the commissioners;

It's like he has a sex tape of them all...."

A few of the takeoffs highlight soloists. Troutman makes a daffy Lady Gaga in "Bad Finance," Robbie Jaeger belts the epic "Greenway" to the tune of "My Way," while Mekole Wells has a madcap, blazing cameo in the title role of "The Fandom of the Oprah."

Yet the ensemble, unflappably changing costumes and wigs and characters every few minutes, is the joint star. Choreographer Linda Booth pays amusing homage to Broadway shows such as "Sweet Charity" and "A Chorus Line," but she and director Collins have just as much fun with a loud, lewd mockery of "Jersey Shore" to the melody of "That's Amore."

It won't be hard to find material for a 2012 show called "Eight Is Never Enough." Some of it may be the same material, as the NASCAR Hall of Fame will still be falling far short of its projected numbers. But the current cast will be hard to top.

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