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The Talent Machine’s Li’l Abner

If’n you like watchin’ young’uns have a good time, you’re gonna like Li’l Abner.

In 24 years of showcasing Annapolis’ youth, The Talent Machine has groomed countless stars of community and professional theater, who continue to prove allegiance by fostering the company’s newest talents.
    Enter 45 performers, aged eight to 14, in a troupe revival of Li’l Abner, the hillbilly musical based on Al Capp’s classic comic strip. These kids are right good at ferretin’ out all the campy humor in the colorful soap opera of life in Dogpatch, USA. There’s luscious Daisy Mae (Caroline Foreback) pinin’ after hunky but marriage-averse Li’l Abner Yokum (Reed Webber), whilst his scrappy Mammy and Pappy (Camryn Bowcutt and Tarn Kelsey) is rootin’ for her to catch their muscle-bound boy afore Marryin’ Sam (Billy Luzier) pawns her off to that ornery no-count Earthquake McGoon (Evan Bradley-Lewis).
    Meanwhile the army aims to bomb the holler till Dr. Finsdale (Gillian Smith), the government scientist, sees the body-buildin’ magic of Mammy’s Yokumberry tonic, the new secret weapon of America’s fightin’ forces.But greedy General Bullmoose (David Ossman) and his floozy, Appasionata (Alli Musser) hanker after the secret with deadly intent.
    It’s mayhem sold in song and dance aplenty, including “If I Had My Druthers,” “Namely You,” “I’m Past My Prime” and “Progress is the Root of All Evil.” Considering the age of the cast, the singin’s plumb good, and the dancin’, pert’ near amazin’.
    But don’t nobody beat 12-year-old Bowcutt as Mammy for ticklin’ yer funny bone. This is a gal to watch for down the line. The biggest musical surprise of the evenin’ is the quartet of singing secretaries, Morgan Gingerich, Charlotte Kuethe, Julia Rach and Katie Sacha, who harmonize tighter than the Dixie Chicks.
    The set’s right homey and the costumes perfectly gaudy with body pads and accessories galore, the astoundin’ work of a posse of parent volunteers.
    If’n you like watchin’ young’uns have a good time, you’re gonna like Li’l Abner.

Panama, Frank, Mercer and DePaul. Director: Aly Cross. Choreographer: Amy Sonntag. Musical director: Cyndi Wallman.

Thru July 17, at 7:30pm Th-Sa; 2pm Su at @ St. John’s College Key Auditorium, Annapolis. $10 w/discounts; rsvp: 410-956-0512.