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The Broadway Dolls Prove A Fierce Act To Follow

08:01 AM Saturday 10/15/11 |   |

If hearing about The Broadway Dolls makes you think of another all-girl group of dolls – the Pussycat Dolls – that won’t last long if you catch their show.

Sure, the five young women who make up The Broadway Dolls look great in short, spangly dresses, but each is a graceful dancer and a talented singer with Broadway chorus credits. They make the Pussycat Dolls seem like contestants in a sixth-grade talent show.

The Dolls’ new show “Tour de Fierce” is an exuberant trip through a wide selection of pop and musical theater songs. It is being presented at the 47th Street Theatre for six performances as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival.

Highlights include the group’s soulful take on Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” a proud performance of “Mamma Who Bore Me” from “Spring Awakening” and a funky version of Prince’s “Baby I’m a Star.” A nice touch is when each doll sings tunes from the Broadway shows in which she’s performed.

But the dolls shine brightest when they break into two groups to simultaneously sing two songs connected by theme, as they do when belting out “Forget About the Boy” from “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair” from “South Pacific.”

Created in 2007 by Hollie Howard (whose Broadway credits include “Hairspray,” ‘‘Mamma Mia!” and “Annie Get Your Gun”), the Dolls put their own twist on dozens of songs – ranging from Jason Mraz’s “Live High” to “At the Ballet” from “A Chorus Line” – while dancing and joking and mugging.

Howard is joined by Tracee Beazer (“Memphis,” ‘‘The Wedding Singer”), Tracy Jai Edwards (“Hairspray,” ‘‘Legally Blonde”), Robyn Hurder (“Grease,” ‘‘Chicago,” ‘‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”) and newcomer Gabrielle Ruiz (“In the Heights,” ‘‘A Chorus Line”).

This is a chance for the chorus girls to take center stage and it’s a reminder of how insanely talented Broadway performers are. The show functions as a type of showcase for each woman if, by chance, there are any casting directors in the audience. It’s a two-hour cabaret act that really should be the centerpiece of a smoky jazz club, but the Dolls make it work on the small proscenium stage.

The Dolls are backed by a top-notch four-part band that earns its paycheck by feverishly switching from performing rock, pop and musicals on a dime. Director Joey Murray hardly lets one of the Dolls belt out a few bars of a song before its time for another. Two costume changes and even some tap dancing add to the nonstop energy.

The harmonizing stops when each performer takes the stage alone to sing something that has special meaning to her. There’s also a pure dance number and a jokey parody of the “Real Housewives” franchise. But the Dolls are really Dolls when they’re singing.

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