If you were flipping through a paper and ran across this ad for 7 Blondes, a one-woman cabaret that closed last Sunday at the Cabaret de Paris, you might think the production was well-received, the critics raved, and the show's star "Sunny," a hyperactive blonde who impersonates six other blondes (Marilyn Monroe, Joan Rivers, Madonna, Britney Spears, Mae West, and Dolly Parton), was Seattle's favorite new entertainer. You might even have been conned into slapping down some money for a ticket.

Here's the real story: 7 Blondes was panned by nearly every critic who saw it. But the show's producer, Greg Thompson of Greg Thompson Productions (who is fortuitously married to Sunny) didn't let bad reviews stand in his way. Twisting or using selective bits of critics' quotes in advertisements is a time-honored tradition--standard theatrical practice, in fact. But Greg Thompson has single-handedly de-evolved this practice to a new depth of depravity.

1. "Breaking All Records!"

I called Crepe de Paris, the dinner theater where Sunny was doing her schtick, and got Annie, the authentically Gallic owner, on the phone. When I asked her what "breaking all records" meant, she graciously told me in adorable pidgin English, (and I quote): "She's breaking all the never we had in the past. People must talk to friend and they talk to the friend and it's like a snowball, right?"

2. "Seattle's Favorite New Entertainer"

When I called Greg Thompson Productions to ask who decided Sunny was Seattle's favorite new entertainer, I was transferred to a woman named Lori, who tersely told me, "This is opinion from everybody who's seen her show." Except, apparently, the critics.

3. "Vegas-Slick"--The Stranger

Interestingly enough, I wrote the review in The Stranger. And here's what I said in my actual review [Aug 9]: "You've noticed Greg Thompson Productions' bewildering brown compound while driving on Elliott Avenue. 'Wild West Show! Harrah's! Las Vegas!' luridly and inexplicably emblazoned on the ever-changing sign.... It is tragically apparent that this entire show and perhaps poor Sunny herself are merely three-dimensional advertisements for the vacuous schlock that Greg Thompson parades upon the slick stages of casinos and cruise ships."

4. "Sensational, A Flashy Parade of Pop Divas" --Joe Adcock, Seattle P-I

Seattle P-I critic Joe Adcock's actual review [July 28]: "'Sunny' is upstaged by a parade of pop divas." (This is the headline to the article.) "Each celebrity diva--however smiley--exudes a certain driven energy, a certain ruthlessness and aggression. Sunny just seems smiley. She seems eager to please and eager to be admired. Well, her costumes sure are sensational, if not exactly admirable." (The phrase "A Flashy" does not appear in Adcock's review.)

5. "Great Show!"--Pat Cashman

I used to work with Pat on Almost Live. He was one of the only funny things on that show, and he currently hosts a radio show on KOMO-AM. Pat is a consummate professional who doesn't suffer fools gladly, so I wasn't surprised when he sent me this e-mail when I asked him if he really said 7 Blondes was a great show:

"In fact, I made mention of the 7 Blondes ad on my radio show. I DID interview the woman who stars in the production... but it was before the show had even started... so I never saw a single performance. My speculation on the air was that I must have begun my interview with her by saying: "Having you here is great. Showtime is when?" And from that 'Great Show' must have been the result. I wasn't hacked off about it, but I did think it was pretty peculiar... especially since I have never seen hide nor hair of the actual production."

6. "Holy Spangles" --The Seattle Times

Seattle Times critic Misha Berson's actual review [July 31]: "She comes across as a very sweet person (in an ultra-perky way), with a very nice singing voice. She can joke about herself. And, holy spangles, does she ever try to please! But her show is so cheesy it's beyond schlock. It's surrealism."

7. "Terrific"--Fox TV

I called Fox TV and they had absolutely no idea what the hell I was talking about. A source who worked on the production, a respected local publicist, spilled the beans on this one: "That would be from Q13's Morning Live. Sunny was on to do an interview. I was there that morning, and I think that was something along the lines of "It was terrific meeting you."

8. "Funnier than the real Joan Rivers."--Gay Standard

Matthew McQuilkin's actual review in the Gay Standard: "Sunny was lucky to have a crowd fun enough to include a woman willing to blurt out, 'Me on top!' and the result is an impersonator funnier than the real Joan Rivers." The Gay Standard, amazingly enough, actually liked 7 Blondes. While I hate to make fun of Matthew--he did give my one-person show a good review--I'm not sure his taste in theater is any more reliable than his command of syntax.

9. "Picture perfect..." "Terrific comic timing"--Queen Anne News

From Maggie Larrick's review in the Queen Anne News [Aug 15]: "Sunny has a good voice and terrific comic timing.... Sunny has learned, picture-perfect, the complex choreographed routines of Madonna and Britney Spears." The Queen Anne News isn't exactly famous for its hard-hitting theater criticism. And according to my source, the publicist: "They got this article because they own a home in Queen Anne."

10. "Rare Emerald City Entertainment:" --The Seattle Gay News

I couldn't find the original of this article. But you can't really argue... it's rare all right.

11. "Triumphs! An alarmingly earnest cabaret tribute!" --Seattle Weekly

Steve Wiecking's actual review in Seattle Weekly [Aug 16]: "It's not a good thing to come out of a one-woman show telling yourself, 'I'm sure she's a very nice person.' That is, however, the required mantra after experiencing 7 Blondes, an alarmingly earnest tribute from a woman known only as 'Sunny': She seems like a very nice person. A very nice person who took a wrong turn somewhere near Las Vegas--but still. Our thoughts on the autobiographical second half of the show, in which Sunny communicates her personal triumphs ('The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain, the rain in Spain... Spain: That's where I went next...'), are best left unspoken."

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