Anita Bryant is dead and living in Rolando. On the Moxie Theatre stage, she’s gay bashing and singing the praises of oranges just like in the old days – and Anita’s not the only ghost in Zsa Zsa Gershick’s new play Coming Attractions. The chief spirit haunting the fictitious Desert Knight Hotel in Palm Springs, circa 1979, is that of Dee Dee Windom, who before she ran the place lusted her way through Hollywood. Those who knew Dee Dee, in both senses of the word, have checked into the hotel to bask or writhe in her charismatic wake.
Moxie featured an early incarnation of Coming Attractions in its new play festival two years ago. This world premiere, co-directed by Jo Anne Glover and Jennifer Eve Thorn, presumably has smoothed out the rough spots, though it feels lengthier than it should be and glutted with randy aphorisms. The strengths of the play are Robin Christ’s tragicomic portrayal of Veronica Scott, a noir lesbian Norma Desmond, and M’Lafi Thompson’s anchoring presence as Dani, the proprietor of the hotel Dee Dee left behind. Benjamin Cole is a hoot as the cross-dressing young Donnie, and he makes a hilarious foil for the preaching Anita Bryant (Samantha Ginn) and shrewd Dee Dee (Jill Drexler), whom only he can see.
Gershick covers a lot of ground – love, death, sex, Hollywood – in Coming Attractions, and the proceedings are drenched in booze and regret.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.