Saturday, September 19, 2009

review / my evening with... The Golden Gays

The Golden Gays
written by John Patrick Trapper
directed by Lori J. Ness Quinn
Cavern Club @ Casita del Campo
through September 27 only

Diehard fans of TV's The Golden Girls will love this cute spoof called The Golden Gays. Yes, its humor could be more rollicking and spicy - this is a Nite Club after all - and it should be a tad shorter, but I had a great time and loved the cast, especially John W. McLaughlin as Dorothy/Damian and John Downey III as Blanche/Blaine.
The first act suffers from slow character setups and chugs along without a dynamic enough conflict. Act II, however, is much campier due to actual representations of memorable episodes - a winning audience grabber - and some really fun musical numbers, like "Tired Old Gay Guys" to the tune of "Bosom Buddies" from Mame sung devilishly by McLaughlin and Irwin Moskowitz as Rose/Roger in flaming red Lucy wig. The other is "Tyra's Lament" to the tune of "Adelaide's Lament" from Guys and Dolls, done beautfully by Aaron Barerra as Dr. Leche and especially Julia Lillis as Blondie/Dr. Joyce Brothers. Other musical treats include "Brush Up Your GG" ("Brush Up Your Shakespeare") and a fun finale "Good Shows Will Be With Us in Reruns" which sums up quite well the whole point to the show. The clumsy therapy plot is unimportant here; it's the tribute to the GGirls that audiences will walk away with, and judging by audience participation in the Act II episode sketches, they were really into it.
I cannot say enough about McLaughlin as Dorothy. Tall and slender (as dear Bea Arthur was) and with all her mannersimas in tact - including the long cold glance, a take that became Arthur's staple and that pointing accusatory finger - he pays her a very endearing and loving tribute. Like Arthur, he wears the costumes, draping pants suits with huge scarves (no credit) stunningly! He is the best in show. Downey is also outstanding as Blanche. He has Rue McClanahan's Southern belle seductress down pat and is quite the delicious tart. Moskowitz needs to focus more on Rose and Betty White. Our Saint Olaf friend here is unassuming and rather listless, but White was energetic, enthusiastic and performed with an overabundance of childlike naivete and joy that is lacking from Moskowitz. David Romano as Sophia has the walk, posture and attitude of Estelle Getty's portrayal, but needs to hit his one-liners like he's batting for a homerun. Getty was infamous as every line was a zinger; as is, Romano sort of underplays and some of the funny stuff loses its punch. Barerra is excellent as the therapist/Florence Johnston/Tyra Banks, etc and Ron Velasco makes Mario an appealing eyeful. Director Quinn does her best to keep the pace fast and furious.
The play needs some retooling - who gives a damn about sitcom defective affectation disorder, some saucier lines, especially in Act I to keep it up and more lively. A couple of musical numbers might be added, giving every lady the music spotlight. What about a parody of "Side by Side" from Sondheim's Company? Might make a feistier and brighter finale!
Overall, GG makes a spunky and entertaining drag satire... and fitting salute to the TV legends. The biggest problems arise when the wigs and makeup come off.
4 out of 5 stars


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