The first run of Legends in the mid-1980s led playwright James Kirkwood to write the book Diary of a Mad Playwright about the experience. The original production starred Carol Channing as Sylvia Glenn and Mary Martin as Leatrice Monsee as a duo of past-their-prime rival divas, and was fraught with trouble from the dueling egos of the stars to the bad press the show received. Critics panned Kirkwood's choice to make the two African-American characters the maid and the stripper. Sylvia Glenn at one point in the first act tells her maid, Aretha, "Why don't you go pick some cotton." While NCTC's production does ameliorate the racial offensiveness of the original production by casting two African-American actresses in the lead roles, it doesn't fix the script, which is full of campy dialogue that no amount of slapstick can make funny. The casting is the best part of this show: Dorsey Dyer is wonderful playing Boom Boom as a Bambi-esque Chippendales dancer, and Gloria Belle does what she can with Aretha. P.A. Cooley is a bit over the top as the scheming producer Martin Klemmer trying to trick the two divas into co-starring in a stage version of Star Wars that will hopefully save all three from financial ruin. The biggest problem with this production is the play itself, which really should have died after its perilous 1986 run. Nara Dahlbacka
Through July 14
Tickets are $22-$40 ($15 for students); call 861-8972 or visit www.nctcsf.org.
New Conservatory Theatre Centre, 25 Van Ness (at Market), S.F.