Divette Inspired by Christ, Garland Lands Lead Role: John Simon

Sherie Rene Scott
Sherie Rene Scott in "Everyday Rapture" on Broadway. The semi-autobiographical show, staged by Michael Mayer, is running at the American Airlines Theatre. Photographer: Carol Rosegg/Boneau/Bryan-Brown via Bloomberg

“Everyday Rapture” is Broadway quasi-diva Sherie Rene Scott’s quasi-autobiography, part fact, part fiction. It had its premiere last season at the intimate off-Broadway theater Second Stage.

Now it reappears as the Roundabout Theater Company’s replacement for a postponed show. On the vast stage of the American Airlines Theatre, it rather rattles around, like a young girl prematurely inheriting her big sister’s bedroom suite.

Problematic with such a show is whether to accept its oddities as peculiar but true or to question them as fabrications usurping the privilege of facts. The show’s solution is to postulate a heroine called “Sherie Rene,” who both is and isn’t Scott.

To which I say that “Everyday Rapture” both is and isn’t a show.

Our heroine was born in Kansas as “half-Mennonite,” which she calls “Amish lite.” She discovered show business with the sole support of her beloved drama-queen cousin Jerome, who later would die of AIDS, and ultimately mustered the guts to make it to New York City and a theatrical life.

The story (co-written with Dick Scanlan) is told partly in reminiscing monologues, partly in pre-existing songs meant to convey a career that Scott herself unassumingly calls that of a “semi, semi, semi-star.” She is backed up by the “Mennonettes,” Lindsay Mendez and Betsy Wolfe, who may have been chosen to prove no thespian, terpsichorean or visual threat to our semi-star.

Judy and Jesus

There is seemly modesty everywhere. Christine Jones’s set consists of some jazzy cutouts and colored lights all over; Tom Broecker’s costumes are suitably understated; and Kevin Adams’s lighting is professional but discreetly unspectacular. Michele Lynch’s choreography stays strictly unassertive and Darrel Maloney’s projections are mostly amalgams of Judy Garland and Jesus Christ, two of Sherie’s guiding lights.

Further guiding her were two pieces of paper, one for each pocket, the first reading “I am a speck of dust,” the second, “The world was created for me,” neatly balancing humility with hubris. Their repeated perusal was prescribed by either a wise old rabbi, a Muslim, a Hasid or a Buddhist, that sort of thing being the humor of the show.

Mr. Rogers

Another influence was pastor Fred Phelps, who warned Sherie against sodomites. She declares, “I wasn’t really sure what a sodomite was, but obviously it had something to do with show business.”

Happily, her next influence, Fred Rogers, sang his gentle sermons to a TV audience of children and didn’t preach that music was for sodomites and showoffs. Finally, Sherie Rene made it to New York’s Hotel Martha Washington for Women, where there were “everywhere reddish hairs from the lady or thing who stayed there before.”

And so it goes, with jokes like “I knew my first Broadway show would cheer me up: ‘Agnes of God!’” Ultimately it all comes down to how you feel about largely mediocre songs and the real Scott, as directed by the savvy Michael Mayer.

I find her talented and attractive in a vulpine, somewhat predatory, way. But I would rather see her in a wholly, not quasi-fictional role. Here Eamon Foley, who lustily portrays a 15-year-old cyber fan of hers, comes off best.

At 427 W. 42nd St. Information: +1-212-719-1300; http://www.roundabouttheatre.org. Rating: **

What the Stars Mean:
****       Do Not Miss
***        Excellent
**         Good
*          Poor
(No stars) Worthless

(John Simon is the New York drama critic for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

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