THERE ARE NO Spiro Pavlovich jokes in this year's Law School musical. The omission is surprising, since every other injoke that could possibly be included in a show intended for Law School audiences is played to the hilt. If you don't know the difference between Dewey, Bushby, Ballantine, Palmer and Wood and Cravath, Swaine and Moore, or the personal characteristics of the school's better-known professors, it probably isn't worth going to Laws.
If, on the other hand, you are generally familiar with the ins and outs of the HLS, you probably should see it. The plot is thin, even for a musical--a none-too-bright law student with the unbearably alliterative name of Bobby Bubbles gets involved in an absurd scandal which turns on a certain professor's lecherous reputation and a massage parlor beneath a pizza parlor. Most of the show's three hours, however, are taken up with Bobby's far-flung fantasies, which include a bicentennial minute on Law School history, a Perry Mason sequence and a take-off on Hollywood Squares with Law School professors replacing the stars. Archibald Cox's seat in the middle of the set is noticeably empty.
From a technical standpoint, Laws is uneven. While everyone is enthusiastic (the orchestra frequently overly so), Ivan Orton as Bobby, Marcie Goldstein as Laura Vue, his Law Review president girlfriend, and Rich Friedman as Professor Killer stand out as the real actors in the group. Professor Herwitz does a fine job playing himself as the Hollywood Squares emcee, as does America Lou Fackler in a sequence about the Mr. Junior Associate Pageant.
If you get the obscure references to Law School trivia, the script is pretty funny even without the Pavlovich jokes. The best musical numbers are "Laura, Little Laura," in which Bobby describes the sad death of Laura Vue, who was eaten by a shark in the Charles (to a background chorus of wailing greasers), and "Never Tell a Lie," in which Bobby and the company act out the punishment for perjurers.
Laws leaves few of the Law School's more tender points untouched, including the wildly approbistic response of a chorus of Supreme Court judges to a whisper of Alan Dershowitz's name. The New Yorker said of Laws namesake, don't bite. If you're unsure of the ground north of the Science Center, don't litigate.