Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
From its opening spoof on an aging 50s rock group to the grand finale in which the audience is asked to sing-along to a single four-letter word, the National Lampoon show at the Cellar Door is a fast-moving, tightly integrated laugh-a-minute program that has something to say on nearly every subject under the sun - something funny with a touch of exquisite bad taste.
Its chief preoccupations are those of main stream America in our time - no politics, for these are the tranquilized '70s, but a deep, brooding concern with drugs, humpback whales, rock music, religion and making out. The four singing actors who carry the show manage to do imitations (some quite good and all funny) of John Denver, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, James Taylor, Neil Young and Diana Ross, to destroy Rod McKuen totally in a 30-second blackout imitation of his phone-answering machine, to strike to the essence of contemporary angst in a condensed version of "Waiting for Godot" and to condense "Moby Dick" into a 10-minute musical comedy with a show-stopping number: "Call Me Ishmael."
Within minutes, they switch from an operating-room drama with the surgeons zonked out on acid to a heart-felt rendition of "The Middle-Class Liberal Well-Intenioned Blues," to a deeply moving appeal for the "Stamp Out Jerry Lewis Fund" to a solemnly hip sermon that gives you the inside dope on God as a sales opportunity. True-life dramas are played out in a singles bar and a confessional; an elaborate television sales pitch is given for "Vito and Vinny's School of Dope-Dealing," and a blow-by-blow, on-the-spot sportscast helps to explain why Olympics gymnastic competition should be X-rated.
The four players (backed up by an eclectic rockability group called Michael Simmons and Sluefoot) are Eleanor Reissa, Wendy Goldman, Andrew Moses and Roger Bumpass. All are multi-talented and they work together smoothly on an equal basis, though Bumpass seems just a bit more equal than the others.