It's not exactly true that "Ruthless," the current production at Laguna Beach's No Square Theatre, is the musical version of "The Bad Seed," but there are enough references to that play to cause eyebrow raising among the most casual theatergoers.
For instance, the child prodigy's surname is "Denmark," one letter removed from Rhoda's name, "Penmark." There's a radio announcer named "Max Anderson," "The Bad Seed" playwright's nickname, and mention of someone named Monica Breedlove, a character from "The Bad Seed." Also, there's a snippet of "Au Clair de la Lune," the tune Rhoda plunks out on the piano after her latest felony.
But playwright-lyricist Joel Paley had more targets than "The Bad Seed" on his mind when he created "Ruthless" some two decades ago. The story line shifts into "All About Eve"and "Gypsy" territory before the bodies finally stop falling. This is satire with a capital S.
The No Square production gleefully capitalizes on these and other circuitous plot points in a deliciously campy rendition marred only by its excessive volume. The Legion Hall is no concert venue, and actors really don't need amplification, especially those with voices as powerful as those of the "Ruthless" cast.