Hilarious performances make Cedar Crest Colleges Department of Performing Arts "Ruthless! The Musical" a riotously uproarious evening of theater.

The darkly funny musical, on the stage of Samuels Theater, 100 College Drive, Allentown, through Oct. 1, is a spot-on parody of show business Broadway musicals, such as "Gypsy" and "Mame." There are plenty of shout-outs to other musicals from "A Chorus Line" style line-up to a joke about dancing gang members from "West Side Story."

Southern Lehigh junior Jenna Seasholtz is perfectly cast as Tina Denmark, the 8-year-old protagonist who is uber talented and relentlessly ambitious. Seasholtz has the requisite big belty voice and can tap dance, twirl batons and drop into a split with ease. Seasholtz also nails Tinas a-little-too-sweet, chirpy persona that hides her ruthless and homicidal aspirations. Her reactions are on-point and priceless. Ruthless The Musical

Giovanni Marini commands the stage every time they make an entrance as Tinas equally ambitious manager, Sylvia St. Croix, who is deliciously over the top. Marini is an impressive physical comedian and makes Sylvia such a force of nature that the character often steals whatever scene she is in.

Noel Cruz gives an inspired performance as Tinas mther Judy Denmark who goes from wide-eyed June Cleaver-style domesticity to selfish and demanding diva. She has an impressive soprano and great comic timing which she displays with aplomb in "Tinas Mother."

Ashly Rodriguez is humorous as frustrated theater teacher Miss Thorn and her "Teaching Third Grace" is especially funny.

As the savage, tippling theater critic Lita Encore, Sofia Barbour hits the right notes and is memorable is her big number "I Hate Musicals."

Supporting cast Kyleigh Vicoso as jealous assistant Eve, Jahniya James as Tinas talentless rival Louise Lerman and Nik Gieorgievski as Tinas absentee father and other male roles are all good and add to the fun.

JoAnn Wilchek Basist provides deft direction and perfect pacing for this rollicking comedy.

Musical direction by Rebecca Pieper is crisp and the songs all were delivered well. Lucille Kinkaid offers proficient accompaniment for the vocalists.

The set, by scenic design by Roxanne Amico, is colorful and eye-catching whether recreating the modest home of the Denmarks complete with a wall of portraits of Tina, or the penthouse suite of a Broadway star with a balcony view.

Costumes by Polly Kendrick are splashy and lots of fun from the Denmarks fluffy crinolines to Sylvias leopard print outfit to Tinas prison stripe dress complete with prisoner number "24601."

Choreography by Joanelllyn Schubert works well and she adds some fun kicklines for the cast.

Performances are 7 p.m. Sept. 29-30; and 2 p.m. Oct. 1.

Tickets are $20 for adults; $15 for seniors and $5 for students.

For information, call 610-740-3780 or go to www3.cedarcrest.edu/academics/performing_arts/events.shtm https://www.cedarcrest.edu.