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Everyday Rapture -- Theater Review

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The departure of Megan Mullally from the planned Broadway revival of "Lips Together, Teeth Apart" has resulted in a big break for actress Sherie Rene Scott. Her autobiographical musical "Everyday Rapture" -- presented last season to great acclaim at off-Broadway's Second Stage -- has been brought in as a last-minute substitute to placate the Roundabout Theatre Company's many subscribers.

But though it will certainly boost this talented performer's profile, not to mention giving her a good shot at winning a Tony, the new incarnation doesn't necessarily do her show any favors.

A slight if engaging account of her life's journey from growing up as a Mennonite in rural Kansas to becoming "one of Broadway's biggest, brightest semistars" in such musicals as "Aida," "The Little Mermaid" and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," none of which are mentioned here, it seems far too wispy and self-involved to fill the large stage at the American Airlines Theatre.

There's no denying that the beautiful blonde Scott possesses considerable talent and charm, both of which are on ample display. She delivers her frequently amusing tale with sly, understated humor in a breathy, sexy voice that recalls Marilyn Monroe's in its disingenuousness.

Co-written with Dick Scanlan, the show interweaves its star's account of her venturing forth on her "rumspringa" -- a 12-month sabbatical from her faith that, as she points out, is now going on its 28th year -- with renditions of thematically appropriate songs ranging stylistically from "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe" to U2's "Elevation" and the Band's "The Weight."

Describing being torn between her secular and religious influences, she sings "Get Happy," in tribute to Judy Garland, and "You Made Me Love You," the latter accompanied by projections of various images of Jesus. A segment devoted to iconic children's television show host Fred Rogers features several amusingly unorthodox versions of his trademark songs, including, of course, "Won't You Be My Neighbor?"

But for all the script's funny one-liners, vignettes like Scott's account of losing her virginity to a Times Square street magician don't have much resonance. A lengthy segment centering on an obsessive teenage fan (Eamon Foley) who posted a video on YouTube of himself lip-synching to one of her songs is more creepy than amusing.

Scott, accompanied by backup singers Lindsay Mendez and Betsy Wolfe, handles the musical and narrative demands of the show in fine fashion. But "Rapture" comes across as overly precious and lacking the thematic heft that would justify its unexpected Broadway berth.

Venue: American Airlines Theatre, New York (Through July 11)
Production: Roundabout Theatre Company, Second Stage Theatre
Cast: Sherie Rene Scott, Eamon Foley, Lindsay Mendez, Betsy Wolfe
Playwrights: Dick Scanlan, Sherie Rene Scott
Director: Michael Mayer
Choreography: Michele Lynch
Set designer: Christine Jones
Costume designer: Tom Broecker
Lighting designer: Kevin Adams
Sound designers: Ashley Hanson, Kurt Eric Fischer, Brian Ronan
Projection designer: Darrel Maloney