The latest show from Fresh Fruit Productions is aptly named. It truly is the pits.
"Fresh Fruit's Greatest Pits and More" is a disappointing installment in what has otherwise been an entertaining series of camp variety shows featuring send-ups of classic songs and pop tunes, along with mock commercials advertising ridiculous products. The current production, onstage at the Tremont Theatre this month, is decidedly less polished than previous efforts.
Fresh Fruit is made up of a five-member male ensemble skilled at performing in drag. (Even that is spoofed since two performers sport robust facial hair.) Flowing locks, spiked heels, and leopard-print dresses are the norm. In "Greatest Pits," the troupe performs more than a dozen songs with reconfigured lyrics, some of them R-rated and some scatological.
Many of the numbers stretch one-line gags for too long, but there are musical numbers that succeed either with defined characters or several verses of original lyrics. Highlights include "She Wants to Be a Mennonite," featuring Pete Gaioni and sung to the tune of Sheila E.'s 1984 radio hit, "Glamorous Life," and "Spring for the Right Wing in Washington," a topical riff based on the "Springtime for Hitler" melody from "The Producers."
In terms of production values, "Greatest Pits" demonstrates a significant step forward for the Fresh Fruit troupe, which has been performing full-length shows in Boston for four years and working as a group since 1998. The video segments and scenic elements have greatly improved over time. Countless fabulous costumes have been part of the action since the beginning, whether they are lavish, floor-length gowns or a set of giant foam flower-pot get-ups. Nearly all the design elements come courtesy of Fresh Fruit members, who work collaboratively on everything from writing to choreography.
Some of these notable improvements, however, contrast with the execution of "Greatest Pits," making it seem all the more thrown together. The gap between what's possible and what was clumsily achieved was made clear during a weekend performance in which the audience repeatedly sat in darkened silence waiting for costume changes, singers battled to project their voices over music tracks (despite wearing microphones), and ensemble members garbled important lyrics.
("Fresh Fruit's Greatest Pits and More"; A musical variety show, written by Pete Gaioni and Rodney VanDerwarker; At the Tremont Theatre, 276 Tremont St., through Feb. 21, 617-983-2221.)