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Atlas Performing Arts Center: Lab II

Remaining performances (tickets available here):

Sunday, July 19 at 4:45 p.m.
Wednesday, July 22 at 9:45 p.m.
Friday, July 24 at 6 p.m.

They say: Sequined crooner Eddie Lounge returns! Eddie’s retired. His rival Rico’s filled the lounge void. Now as Eddie and the Cosmos shake their comedic lounge cocktail, Rico and Gina Tonic stir it up.

Andrew’s take: I knew I’d made a mistake when I walked into The Eddie Lounge Reunion Tour without a drink in my hand. A show meant to mimic a lounge act, with characters named after cocktails (“Vern Mouth”), where the crowd is encouraged to get as rowdy as possible while a live band performs slick covers of pop song chestnuts, demands as strong a spirit as the Atlas will sell you. Which isn’t very strong. On second thought, just smuggle something in, and sit at one of the lounge tables in front if you want to dance on the stage.

This is a return engagement for Eddie Lounge (née Ed Spitzberg) and his Cosmos band, who last did a show at Fringe in the long-ago era of 2007. And that time has passed in the show, too. Spitzberg, who is billed as the creator and producing artistic director, has crafted an elaborate mythology around his character, establishing first in a short film and then during the act itself that Eddie has come out of “retirement” and reunited his band for this show (though the reason why is never explained). He’s nursing a rivalry: Former protege Rico Bubbly has struck out on his own, renaming himself “Bublé” (lounge humor, ladies and gentlemen) and stealing Eddie’s gigs. It doesn’t take long for the velvet-voiced Rico (Jeremy Zucker) to show up, and for him and Eddie to go head-to-head in a “lounge-off.”

No one at this year’s Fringe is a more dedicated self-promoter than Eddie, who’s been pumping the show nonstop on social media and local theater blogs. So I hope he won’t send a tweetstorm my way for saying that Rico is the better performer: funnier in his sleazy stage presence, looser in his dance movements, and deeper in his willingness to sell every joke. Eddie has some nice sequins and is good enough of a sport to sway along to the music even when his act is being sabotaged. But I’m beginning to suspect his victory at show’s end, which he secured by gliding around on a scooter while belting a lackluster Katy Perry song, was not a well-earned one. The best number of the night doesn’t even belong to either, but to Alex Romain as keyboardist Mo Heeto, who nails a rendition of George Michael’s “Faith” as sung to backup singer Gina Tonic (Melissa Romain).

What shines through the show’s direction by Walter Ware III, more than any individual number (there’s only so much that can be done with a live band taking up half the stage), is a deep affection for the lounge lifestyle. Eddie and his crew love that proudly amateurish, alcohol-soaked persona that prizes having a good time above all else—although considering how much they love alcohol, it’s curious that they avoid profanity even when the song calls for it. But crowds love the shtick. It’s why a woman in my row went nuts when Eddie Rickrolled us (or, in his parlance, “lounge-rolled”). Is that enough to recommend the show? Depends on how smashed you are.

See it if: You’re drunk right now.

Skip it if: You wouldn’t survive hearing one more rendition of “I Will Survive.”

Photo courtesy of Twist and an Olive Productions