Friday, June 13, 2014
'The Golden Gals' Live Stage Performance at Provincetown Art House: Take of Classic Sitcom by Men in Dresses is no Drag
The numerous great things about the Provincetown Art House live-stage production "The Golden Gals," which runs through August 30 2104, make knowing which to address first a difficult (but nice) challenge.
The production is a hilarious take on the classic '80s sitcom "The Golden Girls," which tells the uber-awesome tales of four very different upper-middle-aged women who somehow form an incredibly supportive and loving family that virtually every gay man and a large percentage of straight people would sacrifice a limb to join.
The very talented Ryan Landry of the spectacular Boston-based Gold Dust Orphans theater troupe stars as the very masculine Dorothy Zbornak. In fact, Landry's Dorothy is more feminine than that of late and truly great Bea Arthur from the sitcom.
The absolutely fabulous drag goddess Varla Jean Merman of the film "Girls Will Be Girls" and seemingly almost as many stage shows as Liza co-stars as faded (and slutty) Blanche Devereaux. (Call me, Varla. I am in the book. :-))
Both Blanche and NOLA-based Merman show why New Orleans is known as the Big Easy. It is equally clear that "Gals" producer Mark Cortale has no cause to rue (of course, pun intended) casting Merman in the role.
Fellow cross-dressers Olive Another, who plays Dorothy's hilariously blunt mother Sophia, and Brooklyn Shaffer, who takes on the role of Betty White's sweet and naive farm girl Rose Nylund, expertly round out the main cast.
"Gals" consists of portrayals of two especially funny "Girls" episodes. Although largely true to the original scripts, adding some racier materials that bumps the rating from PG to PG-13 adds to the hilarity in a manner that makes it likely that there is not a dry seat in the house when these ladies of Ptown really get going.
The first episode revolves around a visit from Dorothy's long-time friend Jean, who is a lesbian but remains in the closet regarding Rose and Blanche for much of this act. Fans will very fondly remember this episode. A "full frontal" scene featuring Merman is a highlight of this portion of the play.
The second act focuses on Rose having a very bad experience the first time that she gets back on the horse since the death of her beloved husband five years earlier. This act begins with a hilarious scene in which she, Dorothy, and Blanche go condom shopping.
Merman once again steals the show; this time, it is a repeated unscripted (but G-rated) wardrobe malfunction.
Hilarious real and staged commercials are interspersed throughout the play. A Carvel commercial prompts fond memories, and at least one seemingly spoof ad is for a real product.
Every cast member plays her role to a T; it seems clear that they are huge fans of the show. As mentioned above, Merman makes a excellent Southern slut; Landry gets Dororthy's look and overall persona down to a degree that prompts renewed mourning for Arthur, and Another and Shaffer capture their characters equally well. Shaffer deserves special credit for her portrayals of Sophia's wide-eyed stare and shuffling gait.
Further, seeing a mostly gay audience loving virtually every line and enjoying terrific fellowship (of course, pun intended) is uber-awesome by itself. The memories that it evokes of men gathering at bars nearly 30 years ago to watch the sitcom makes this experience that much more special.
One can only hope that Corvale and his ladies take on the '90s sitcom "Designing Women" next. Being deprived of watching Landry rant about abortion rights and Merman pontificate on the need of men to constantly grab their naughty bits is torture.
Anyone with questions about either "Gals" or "Girls is strongly encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.