Monday June 26th 2017

“The Golden Girls-The Lost Episodes”

I know that David Cerda just won a special Jeff Award for the brilliance he has brought to the stage through his Hell In A Handbag Production company, and that some of his “drag” shows are amazingly delightful, but, his newest work, making its World Premiere at Mary’s Attic, “The Golden Girls-The Lost Episodes” may just be stretching camp to the limits. Many of us loved “The Golden Girls” a smash comedy hit on TV that can still be watched late night on cable. The stories and or episodes (as one might call them) involve three very close friends, Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Dorothy’s mother Sophia, all living in a Miami development for seniors. Dorothy is a crusty, somewhat bitter divorcee’, Rose, a fairly simple-minded woman with stories galore relating to her native city in Minnesota and Blanche, is a southern “belle” who loves being sexy, in every way. Sophia is just Sophia and had most of the great one-liners.

Here is the problem. This was a funny show! Well written and well acted with a cast that was sheer perfection. To watch a “campy” version of a show that was camp to begin with is very difficult. Perhaps the younger people in the audience, who are not even aware of Betty White’s ability to be stupid and smart at the same time, or even who these characters are, might find some humor in just the scripting of Cerda. He is clever and has a solid cast to make these three episodes almost work. What Cerda has done is take the characters, along with some who were in one or two episodes during the course of the series run and do stories that “could have been” written and might have made sense.

The three “scenes” (for want of a better word) are parodies of the show and the characters that became beloved in “TV LAND”. The situations are ones that would never have been allowed on television (even today, they might not have been), serving as den mothers to some little neighbor girls, and watch Rose turn what might be a crippling disease into a dance competition championship and see what happens when Blanche plans a special night in her home while the others go on a trip. The final story is one that brings into being all the characters that were on the show and never came back. Whatever happened to them? Cerda explains!

The stage at Mary’s Attic is more for cabaret performance than a full- scale show, but director Shade Murray manages to use the space fairly well, considering that there are a great number of people on the stage at times. Cerda takes on the role of Dorothy (he is as close to Bea Arthur as she was), AJ Wright handles the southern belle Blanche with a look that is very real, and Rose is played to perfection by Ed Jones. The old lady, Sophia is amazingly played by Adrian Hadlock, who truly appears to be a woman playing a woman instead of a man doing so. He is that good!

The ensemble of players who take on several roles and do the commercials (after all this is a television show) are:Robert Williams, Michael S. Miller,  Lori Lee (who plays Stan ,Dorothy’s ex), David Lipschutz, Terry McCarthy, Kristopher Botrall, Chaz Bly and Grant Drager. Some of these men play several roles and change costumes as quickly as they do characters. Myron Elliot’s costumes are very “Golden Girls” and the lighting (Cat Wilson) and sound (Tim McNulty) along with the wigs by Keith Ryan work to make the show a delight to watch and hear. The script , however, is raunchy and designed to shock.  The talent is there, but for my part, the commercials and the trivia contests were more original and enjoyable, at least for me.

I also enjoyed the audience. Yes, being an old television program, there were audience members who came dressed as “the Golden Girls” and guess what? They knew all the trivia answers (and they were not a set-up. Lori Lee who handled the trivia show had to do some clever ad-libbing with these ladies. She nailed it, making the evening a pleasure for those who came dressed in costume (and those who just came in “drag”). FYI- Mary’s Attic is a bar and has some typical bar food: Mac-n-cheese frits were tasty and the chicken tenders  were better than I expected. I think next time I will try the sliders. The show is about 85 minutes in length but has two acts (why? you might ask- to sell more drinks, of course) so over-all figure 100 minutes in total.

“The Golden Girls-The Lost Episodes” will continue at Mary’s Attic, located at 5400 N. Clark Street (Andersonville) thru July 12th with performances as follows:

Wednesdays    7:30 p.m.

Thursdays  7:30 p.m.   (no performance on July 6th).

Tickets are $16 in advance and $20 at the door. VIP tickets including a drink are $30.

To order your ticket call 800-838-3006 or visit www.handbagproductions.org

 

Mary’s Attic is an intimate space with limited seating , so if this is your thing, do not wait to get in.

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “The Golden Girls-The Lost Episodes”

Parking is fairly easy in the Andersonville neighborhood and bus transportation is at the door (the Clark Street  #22).

 

 

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