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‘Corn’ opens off-Broadway

April 15, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ A musical with the name ``Corn,″ written for the Ridiculous Theatrical Company, has a license to be corny, camp, satirical and hilariously lowbrow.

The late Charles Ludlam took out the license and used all its particulars. ``Corn,″ which he wrote in 1972 for the company he founded in 1967, was revived Tuesday by the Ridiculous at the off-Broadway Chelsea Playhouse.

Pluses for ``Corn″ are some quite good country-western songs engagingly sung by Lisa Herbold. Minuses are a couple of scenes with a phony doctor and nurse, the latter phony both as a nurse and a female. While the rest of the show is a knee slapper, these scenes are painful, suffering in comparison with Marx Brothers and vaudeville.

The plot has Ms. Herbold as country singer Lola-Lola deciding to go home to Hicksville, to revisit her roots and see if she can patch up the famous Hatfield-McCoy feud. Maw McCoy and two daughters live across the tiny stage from Paw Hatfield and two sons.

In Ridiculous tradition, the casting contains some gender benders. Jimmy Szczepanek plays the lusty Melanie McCoy and Stephen Pell, with a face like a dried apple, plays Aunt Priscilla, a religious healer who really ends the feud.

Randy Lake displays a fine voice as Ruben Hatfield, singing to Christa Kirby as sweet Rachel McCoy. Everett Quinton plays Paw Hatfield and directs.

``Corn″ is good natured. It aims for the level of summertime tent shows which once toured rural America and makes no attempt to be as textured as, for instance, ``Cowgirls,″ which ran for months off-Broadway. To best enjoy it, one needs a real taste for corn.

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