Theater in the City: Greedy Puppets Gone Wild! 

with Raven Snook

Try this sock on for size: Harvey Finklestein’s Sock Puppet Showgirls isn’t the only sock puppet, screen-to-stage adaptation in town. Die Hard: The Puppet Musical — one of the many pop culture-crazed productions showcased in The $ellout Festival (The Brick Theater, 575 Metropolitan Ave, June 2-July 2) — doesn’t just feature fancy footwear; as the title implies, it’s got songs, too. Created by puppeteer James Walton, it’s a meticulous remounting of John McTiernan’s seminal 1988 action flick, including the explosions. I can’t wait to watch puppet Bruce Willis bleed — hopefully while crooning a show tune about his sliced up feet. Other notably shameless entries in this self-declared “artistically void” festival: Girls! Girls! Girls!, a cavalcade of dance clichés (Fosse jazz hands, anyone?); Greed: a Musical Love $tory (featuring cameos by Anna Nicole Smith and James Joyce); The Olsen Terror (those ubiquitous twins, again); and The Kung Fu Importance of Being Earnest, conceived by Timothy Haskell, the guy who brought us the raucous stage adaptation of Patrick Swayze’s Road House a few years back. Will 1980s nostalgia ever get old? 

If the 60s is more your decade, check out a brand-new colorized print of Roger Corman’s cheapie Little Shop of Horrors courtesy of Legend Films at The Coney Island Film Series (The Coney Island Museum, 1208 Surf Ave, May 27). Why is a theater queen like me touting a movie screening? Because of its gloriously tawdry pre-show, featuring beautiful burlesque babes Belle Boudelaire, Lady Satan and Dottie Lux performing killer numbers. Plus complimentary popcorn!

Back in the city, The 11th Annual Lower East Side Festival of the Arts (Theatre for the New City, 155 First Ave, May 26-28) showcases all kinds of die-hard, downtown denizens, including performance artist and Warhol starlet Penny Arcade; pioneering indie director Jim Jarmusch; Academy Award winner F. Murray Abraham; riotous lesbian stand-up Reno; and toupee-wearing talk show host Joe Franklin (yes, he’s still alive). All the events are eclectic and free, which means they’re at least worth the price of admission.

And while you’re downtown, check out drag diva Jackie Beat (who used to be a New Yorker but abandoned us for a thinner, blonder Los Angeles life). Like her other cabaret acts, Jackie Beat Is Not a People Person (The Cutting Room, 19 W 24th St, May 26-28) is bound to alienate most of her audience. That’s what makes her so charming.

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