Who knew that Ms. Pac-Man was so funny?
Take one over the hill video game star, stir in some drag, some music, and some humor, and mix in enough vodka that no amount of magic pills could possibly erase your hangover, and you’ll have the recipe for Ms. Pak-Man: Bonus Stage!, the hilarious sequel to last year’s Ms. Pak-Man: Multiple Lives!
Anyone who was old enough to hold a joystick in the early 1980’s would remember Ms. Pac-Man. It was THE arcade game to play. Ms. Pak-Man: Bonus Stage! imagines what the game’s eponymous star is up to these many years, and many drugs, later.
The show features a gender-bent Scott Shoemaker in jaundiced drag as the leading lady (an intentionally misspelled Ms. Pak-Man, for which I’m sure the lawyers from Namco are pleased) who plays her like the love child Judy Garland and her bottle of vodka never had. Sorry Liza. Our bright little ball of sunshine is back after many “trials and tribulations, and one actual trial” in a rehash of last year’s comeback show, she tells us between slurps from her martini. This time, she’s out for blood.
Ms. Pak-Man is backed up by the Ghostettes, played by Erin Stewart and Amalia Larson, who, along with Shoemaker, take the audience on a musical journey through some of the 1970’s and 1980’s more memorable party anthems freshened with Ms. Pak-Man related lyrics. Shoemaker is a gifted singer, and the lyrical changes are funny, or I may not have forgiven them for including anything by Huey Lewis and the News. With parodies of songs from Thin Lizzy to the Doobie Brothers, to David Bowie and Michael Jackson, the music is what really makes this show fun.
Shoemaker and Molitch’s script is full of side-splitting puns and witty references to early video game history, some of which may be lost on some younger or non-gaming inclined members of the audience, but the more arcane references are pretty rare. Strip away the joystick lingo, though, and you’ve got a hilarious cabaret show about a drunken, bitter, middle-aged divorcée with an axe to grind and purse full of prescription medication. Thanks, Dr. Mario!
Ms. Pak-Man: Bonus Stage! runs for its final weekend starting this Thursday. Get there early, because seats are first come, first served (unless you’ve popped for a VIP table up front) and the ideal seats (with good sight lines and in the path of a fan) go fast. Tickets are $20 in advance, and $25 at the door.