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Java Tacoma: Covfefe is for Closers

Episode 7 of ongoing sitcom for the stage

Roger Iverson singing “Just a Gigolo,” background: Jen Aylsworth, Susan Kaeka and Betzy Miller. Photo credit: Jason Ganwich of Ganwich Media

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If silliness and camp is your cup of tea (or coffee), then you should make every effort possible to get to Dukesbay Theater to see Java Tacoma: Covfefe is for Closers.

This is the seventh episode of this ongoing sitcom for the stage. This highly topical comedy filled with local digs, not to mention a few barbs tossed in the direction of the White House, was written by Dukesbay co-founder Aya Hashiguchi, who also wrote two other plays in the series and who plays Linda, the co-owner of the fictitious Perky's Coffee Shop. Hashiguchi has been a regular in the series from the beginning, starting with episode 36 (this one is episode 7, go figure). The only other regular in this episode is Betzy Miller as Kate Cunningham, co-owner along with Jeri Rockwell (Susan Kaeka) of Hollyware, a specialty-clothing store in the same building with the coffee shop.

Here's a sketchy synopsis of the unlikely script. Heartless, money-grubbing real-estate mogel Peter LeGrand (Roger Iverson) owns the building and wants to sell it, and he's willing to let it go for the ridiculous sum of one dollar to the winner of a karaoke contest. The catch is that only three people are allowed to compete in the contest: Linda, Kate and Jeri. But Linda is suffering from a debilitating disease not yet diagnosed as pulmonary hypertension and refuses to, as she puts it, sing for her supper. She wants her husband, Bert (Malcolm J. West) to sing in her place if LeGrand will allow it. Newly hired barista Darren Pettit (Jeffery Weaver) wants to get in on the contest as well, for his own reasons, as does Marian (Jen Aylsworth), a customer who shows up by coincidence.

Everybody sings, and the songs are parodies of popular tunes. All of the lyrics have been changed to fit the script. "Unforgettable" is beautifully performed as a solo by Hashiguchi and then joined as a duet by West. This love song is followed by a sad scene in which Hashiguchi as Linda has to go in the back and lie down because singing has left her breathless -- all the more touching because as many in the audience know, Hashiguchi actually does have pulmonary hypertension.

Hilariously entertaining among the other songs is "The Great Pretender," sung by Weaver as Darren in drag as an over-the-top diva, and a parody of Louis Prima and Keely Smith's raucous "Just a Gigolo," performed as a lampoon of Donald Trump by Iverson.

There are flashback scenes about the colorful history of the building that lovingly poke fun at various immigrant groups that have run businesses in the building. These scenes and a running joke wherein Jeri slips into a Vietnamese accent every time she answers the phone, not to mention punch lines about the LGBTQ community, could easily slip into offensive territory if they were not done with such obviously kind intent. But as is usual with Dukesbay shows, the actors are of the ethnicities they represent. Working with actors of many ethnicities is the basic mission of Dukesbay.

Java Tacoma runs 90 minutes with no intermission. Coffee and cookies are included with the cost of admission. What better way to spend an evening.

JAVA TACOMA: COVFEFE IS FOR CLOSERS, 7:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday; 2 p.m., Sunday, through March 18, Dukesbay Theater, above the Grand Theater, 508 S. 6th Ave., Tacoma, $10, 253.350.7680,

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