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"Sissies" Preaches to the Choir 

The script wastes a good cast. The four young men (Timothy Bambara, T.J. Brooks, Drew Lichvar and Joseph Papa) each has his own personalities and approaches to the church. Unfortunately, the play is not particularly sophisticated in exploiting these differences

Kirk Morton and Kathy Parker provide comic relief as a couple of aging barflies. And Nancy McMahon has several nice moments playing different mothers to the young men.

Given the subject matter, you might expect the play to hammer away at Southern Baptists. But that's not really the case. Ted Boelt is a believable Baptist minister, but the script provides few opportunities for villainy. Instead, he's little more than a stock preacher with blinders the size of Cadillac DeVille fender flares. A little slyness might have gone a long way toward creating some dramatic conflict.

The show works on one level: as a shared cathartic ritual for people who have experienced similar pain. One character, unable to change the church through his writing, says that he's doing little more than preaching to the choir. The same is true of the play itself. And that's not necessarily a bad thing when the audience can share so personally in the message. But it doesn't make for powerful theater. Ironically, this show is not unlike a traditional church service. Both are theatrical without being terribly dramatic. And both depend on a lot of stories in the past tense.

Continues through March 11 at Fielden's Cabaret Theatre, 2033 W. Broad St. Tickets are $14-$16. Call 346-8113.

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