In Pornocchio, Ryan Landry’s musical adaptation of Pinocchio, it’s not the little wooden boy’s nose that grows when he lies. Aside from that transgression, this adults-only laugh riot remains fairly true to its inspiration.
The Gold Dust Orphans always have irreverent, groan-inducing humor and gender-bending to spare in their theatrical arsenal. Toss in big musical numbers, sparkling (often skimpy) costumes, tap dancing and an ensemble so seemingly wholesome they’d rather play dead than bawdy and you’ve got quite a show.
Landry fully embraces a Broadway musical sensibility with a rousing opening number and subsequent parodies from blockbusters like Jesus Christ Superstar, Sweeney Todd and Chicago. Clad in attire ranging from "Italian chef" — red & white checks and big white hats — to nearly naked, six tremendously talented singer/dancers deliver sizzling performances with fantastic vocals and impeccable execution of Merry Death’s impressive choreography.
As the Blue Fairy, Olive Another dons a pretty white dress to prove yet again that nobody gives good booze-fueled, coke-snorting fairy like this Orphan mainstay. Her lounge singing debut, complete with a backup band, is among the show’s finer moments.
Liza Lott returns to her roots with a brash, surprisingly Bohemian-style performance as Mrs. Minnelli, the evil genius behind “Mrs. Minnelli’s Travelling Porno Show.” Brooks Braselman goes similarly over-the-top in a snippy, delightful turn as Jiminy Cricket.
Grace Carney strikes a fine balance with Pornocchio, maintaing an air of innocence even during the puppet's sluttiest moments, while Joe Bissell trots out “Hedwig”-like chops as Limpwick.
In lesser hands, there might be some implicit discomfort in a tawdry send-up of the classic fairy tale. Fortunately, the Gold Dust Orphans make it feel like a slightly naughty, grown-up version of dressing up and putting on a show. It's true, I cannot tell a lie.