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Quick Review: 'The Joys of Sex'

For the run of The Joys of Sex, Variety Arts Theatre has been transformed into a mini Sex Theme Park, featuring costumed ushers, a sex-toy lobby concession and naked cartoons in the restrooms.

Many of the musical numbers in the show, which originated at the 2002 New York Fringe Festival, would be at home in a theme park revue, what with all the movement, color and gags, gags, gags! (And creators—lyricist Melissa Levis and composer David Weinstein, respectively—who specialize in "custom songs for special events" and child-friendly versions of adult musicals.)

The show also contains far more talent than it deserves: Its energetic, versatile cast clearly has the chops for more substantive material. Ron Bohmer, last seen in The Thing About Men, has the looks and charisma of a top-flight leading man; David Josefsberg astonishes late in the play with his vocal prowess; Stephanie Kurtzuba is bubbly and lovable; Jenelle Lynn Randall is an absolute stunner. Producers of such puerile yet exuberantly performed fare (hello, Menopause the Musical) don't appreciate when rather than just get caught up in the playfulness, one quibbles with all the inanities.

Like that songs about regretting one-night stands, never having an orgasm, masquerading as someone better-looking in an Internet chatroom, and a husband beseeching his wife for a threesome sound more like the miseries of sex. Or that there's no reason Josefsberg's nebbishy nice guy and Randall's recovering slut should be together, except for a "happy ending." Or that the happy ending, for both couples, is all about settling down, not great sex.

Or that teen memories of Shaun Cassidy and Duran Duran would put these characters close to 40, at which age one should have a more sophisticated attitude toward sex. Or that despite vibrators, leather and lesbian experimentation, this square show is no more risque than…well, your average theme park.

GRADE: A for the performers, C- for the show

Variety Arts Theatre, on 3rd Ave. between 13th and 14th Sts.; 212-239-6200 or 800-432-7250 for tickets & information.

Photo: Stephanie Kurtzuba, Jenelle Lynn Randall, Ron Bohmer [photo by Carol Rosegg]

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