Dale Stein clearly views "The Dale Stein Show: An All Original One Woman Music and Comedy Revue" as a showcase for her multiple talents. The trouble is she's not multi-talented.
That's not to say she's untalented. There are moments in this two-act revue, at the New Playwrights' Theatre this Thursday through Saturday, when she manages briefly to look and sound original. She has a certain measure of spunk and an appreciation for whimsy. Sitting down at the piano to sing songs of her own making or cozying up to a microphone for comic impersonations, also of her own devising, she is clearly bidding an unconventional hand.
But the songs -- about love, opening nights, ecology and secretary heaven -- are top-heavy with ersatz poetry and near-rhymes and suggest a marriage of would-be Jacques Brel and half-baked Buffy Sainte-Marie. In no time, Stein's singing voice proves undistinguished and her piano technique, which consists of a dozen or so chords, treats that noble instrument as if it were a guitar.
Although the ghost of Lily Tomlin hovers over the monologues, Stein is on somewhat safer turf here. As a French chef, imparting her recipe for "raison d'etre" (stuffed raisins, baked for four hours and sprinkled with baby powder), she taps into a surrealistic vein, not without promise. However, a long poem about buying a fishing pole to catch trout in the ocean is too coy even for nonsense verse. Still, in her monologues, Stein gives the impression she has some ideas up her sleeve, even if none of them really has been permitted to germinate.
What momentarily salvages the show is her running portrait of Nina, a dimwitted but flamboyant Broadway star who is dictating her memoirs to a ghost writer. Nina finds herself getting drunk on martinis and her insights and recollections, never too sharp to begin with, turn to lint. Meanwhile her curly blond wig actually appears to be coming unwound. Stein plays the character very succinctly, capturing the emptiness in a puff of glamor.
For the rest -- well, there's work to be done. Stein's eagerness to please is understandable, but with about 15 minutes of viable material in a 90-minute show, it probably should be checked for a while.