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Arts and Entertainment

When You're Down On Your Luck And You're Too Drunk To Fuck...Bukowsical!

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David Lawrence as Charles Bukowski and Steven Memel as Steven Memel

Haven't you ever wondered what could be learned from the inspirational story of Charles Bukowski's life - alcoholic, depressive, and suicidal poet? Stephen Memel, the auteur/directeur/chanteur/Phantom Impersonateur, did, and he has given the world BUKOWSICAL!, now extended at the Sacred Angel Fist Circle Of Note Gang Theater through July 21.

Yes, it's a musical about Charles Bukowski, and what better way to celebrate SAFCNG's fifth year bringing love, joy, and AA-happy endings to Los Angeles audiences?

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This latest of Memel's eponymous Experiences is still in the form of a fifty-minute backer audition in a late-night slot, Fridays only at 11 pm. If your performance is interrupted by a visit from the Bukowski estate trying to shut down the show, please boo them loudly. Nothing, especially not copyright law, can stand between the world and the power of musical theater.

As the SAFCNG website says, and signs in the lobby demand, "Bring your checkbook and your producer friends. You'll be sure to want a piece of this Broadway Bound show! We have very little time to raise a lot of money."

If you've read this far, you know there is another force behind the show besides madman Steven Memel, but we really appreciate how far BUKOWSICAL! goes to maintain the illusion - even to the extent of a double-sided fake program, one with bios full of "Memel Experiences" such as "Faster Pussycat, Sing! Sing!," "No, No, Godot!" and "Sirhan Sirhan! Sirhan Sirhan!" One of our friends spent an entire day re-reading the fake program.

BUKOWSICAL! was written by Spencer Green and Gary Stockdale, with music by Stockdale and directed by Dean Cameron (yes, of Spam Scam Scam fame). It's just under an hour of black-clad musical theater geeks doing humorous choreography and singing cheery songs about puking up your booze, under the iron hand of Memel as Memel.

David Lawrence shines among a goofy cast as Bukowski, anchoring their mayhem with a stolid, sad-eyed depression. His confusion and sadness every time one musical number ends (such as "You're Stupid, Gross, and Ugly, And We Hate You") is so cute. We just wanted to give him a hug. He seems to have been entirely hypnotized by the madness of Memel, and to have gone so far into Bukowski that there's no way out - even looking kind of sad at the curtain call. He's living Charles Bukowski's real nightmare, of waking up surrounded by musical theater performers.

We got the chance to speak with Cameron after the show, and he told us that there's a chance Sacred Fools will be expanding BUKOWSICAL! to move into an 8 pm mainstage slot. There is something nice about a 50-minute show, fitting into our television-addled eyeballs perfectly, and we'd need another plotline - hopefully involving the maniacal Kathi Copeland - to keep going with it.

BUKOWSICAL! fulfills all the requirements of a riotous late-night, plus providing opportunities for literary posers to dabble in 99-seat theater. By the looks of the ink-stained, haggard, corduroy-jacketed, hollow-eyed people trickling out of BUKOWSICAL!, Sacred Fools has done it again - brought the snobs to their feet.

BUKOWSICAL! plays Fridays at 11 pm only through July 21, with no performances on 6/2 or 6/9. Tickets, $10, are available online or by calling (310) 281-8337. In the hallowed auspices of the Sacred Fools Theater & Casino, 660 N. Heliotrope, LA CA 90004.