“Ruthless!” a deliciously wicked, over-the-top musical about the dramatic measures people take to get ahead in show business, is onstage at New Conservatory Theatre Center in San Francisco through Jan. 7, providing the perfect antidote to the ubiquitous warm fuzzies of the holiday season.

Witty and compact (yet filled with numerous crazy, told-not-shown plot twists), the show by Joel Paley (book and lyrics) and Marvin Laird (music) spoofs Hollywood and Broadway, shamelessly scrunching themes from “The Bad Seed,” “Gypsy,” “Mame” and “All About Eve” telling the tale of a devilish young girl who goes to extreme lengths to secure the lead in her school play.

An off-Broadway hit upon its premiere in 1992, it’s still a hoot decades later. This production, impeccably directed by Dyan McBride, boasts a cast with the vocal chops and spot-on comic timing needed keep the satire sharp as well as silly. All six performers (playing seven characters) deliver.

L-R, Jacqueline De Muro, Hayley Lovgren, Lucca-Troutman, J Conrad Frank, Mary Kalita and Melissa Momboisse are excellent in New Conservatory Theatre Center's production of the show biz parody “Ruthless!” (Courtesy Lois Tema)

Melissa Momboisse bounces, smiles, and sneers as blond-braided little Tina Denmark (shades of the 1956 “Bad Seed” film character Rhoda Penmark), who tap dances up a storm and is responsible for her rival’s demise when she doesn’t get the title role in her class production of “Pippi Longstocking.” 

Mary Kalita takes dramatic turns as Judy Denmark, who turns out to be more than the supportive parent she seems to be, despite her terrific opening tune “Tina’s Mother,” in which she answers three humorously placed landline phones as she sings the praises of her talented child.

As Sylvia in “Ruthless!” J. Conrad Frank gets to wear fantastic outfits by Wes Crain. (Courtesy Lois Tema)

In a role often played in drag, J. Conrad Frank is commanding as the statuesque Sylvia St. Croix, Tina’s talent agent-manager, self-described Auntie Mame and Mama Rose, and, yes, also something more than she seems.

Hayley Lovgren is a riot as the take-no-prisoners teacher Miss Thorn, who has no qualms giving the school play lead to the talent-challenged Louise Lerman, who has rich parents.

Lucca Troutman does double duty as the put-upon Louise, who perishes in Act 1, then later as Eve, the conniving assistant of a stage star; and Jacqueline De Muro, as biting theater critic Lita Encore, brings the house down with the tune “I Hate Musicals” a la Ethel Merman.

Great, colorful sets by Matthew Owens (Act 1 is the Denmark home, in which the floral print on the sofa matches the curtains and Judy’s skirt); all-around scrumptious costumes by Wes Crain (Sylvia’s couture black ensemble in Act 2 dazzles); and wacky wigs by Deon Christopher Glass (Miss Thorn’s bouffant is adorned by pencils) add glitz and oomph to the proceedings.  

Joe Wicht leads the offstage band in this riotous romp, a sure treat for musical theater lovers.

“Ruthless!” continues through Jan. 7 at New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco. Tickets are $25-$65 at nctc.org.