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A CurtainUp Review
The main problem with the piece is that its conceit wears thin after the first 15 minutes. What you end up watching is a non-stop pageant of notorious women who find themselves in the halls of hell, with their life baggage and unsettling memories.
Making Lucifer's "who's who" list are some women who are dead-ringers for Hades: Medea, Salome, Ma Barker, and Lizzie Borden. And let's not overlook Guinevere of Camelot fame, rock and roll diva Janis Joplin, the siren Marilyn Monroe, and that other blonde bombshell Lady Godiva. You'll also see two famous do-gooders here: the former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Princess Diana of Wales. How these two migrated from heaven to hell is explained rather sketchily. But given that both women stirred up quite a bit of controversy in their day, and ruffled the feathers of the powers that be, they aren't completely out of place touring the sulphurous pit.
There's a joke a minute but all fizzle rather than sizzle. The songs, 26 in all, are the stuff of tabloids but not a one touches the heart. Lizzie Borden's "I Had a Good Lawyer" and Bette Davis and Joan Crawford's "Twice as Camp as You" are two of the more colorful numbers. But most are just so-so.
The acting is the one redeeming aspect to the production . Theydeserve kudos for their quick costume changes and adroitness in inhabiting multiple personas. The three female performers have fine musical chops. And music director and pianist, Mary Feinsinger, does a fine job at the piano on stage.
The production values harmonize in a fittingly demonic way. Josh Iacovelli's minimalist set and lighting are infernally right for a dive in hell. And Dustin Cross' costumes are cut from the same satanic cloth.
If there's anything eye-opening here, it's that hell isn't easy to spoof. Hell's Belles clocks in at 90 minutes, but felt hellishly long.