A String Of Pearl
                 
REVIEW by Willard Manus

Debbie Allen brought PEARL, her hip version of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" into the Geffen Playhouse for the holiday season. Allen, who wrote, directed and choreographed the musical spoof, used many students from her Culver City dance academy, resulting in a show that sometimes felt like a graduation exercise.
       

       
In PEARL Snow White becomes Pearl (Vivian Nixon), a wannabe singer, and the Evil Stepmother becomes Queen (Allen), a reigning pop star diva who resents the up and coming Pearl and orders her lackey, Q (Buddy Lewis), to take her down to the river and drown her. But the soft-hearted Q can't do the job and Pearl lives to pursue her career and get back at Queen, aided by the seven dwarfs, now renamed Dwowns.

The show featured taped music and lip-synched lyrics composed by James Ingram, Diane Louie and, of course, Debbie Allen. Some of the songs were first-rate, but some were not--and that pretty much sums up the show as a whole. The kids were cute and they wore their crazy costumes well. They sang and danced with gusto, and much of the time were fun to watch, but eventually I had my fill of the little ones. Allen should have let someone else direct this show, because an objective third-eye was sorely needed. Less Allen would have been more.
       

      
PEARL ran through Dec. 29, 2002 at the Geffen Playhouse, 10886 LeConte Ave., Westwood. Next up at the Geffen--Jan 28-March 9--is the world premiere of Neil Simon's latest play, ROSE AND WALSH, starring David Aaron Baker and Marin Hinckl;e, directed by David Esbjornson. 310-208-5454.