This review of Thank You For Being A Friend: An Unauthorized Golden Girls Musical Parody at The Cutting Room was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 6 (2016) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!
Thank You For Being A Friend: An Unauthorized Golden Girls Musical Parody
Co-Directed by Joe Barros & Nick Brennan
Book by Nick Brennan
Music by Jeff Thomson
Lyrics by Luke Jones & Cisco Cardenas
Choreography by Joe Barros
Sets by Tonae Mitsuhashi
Costumes by Ryan Moller
Charles Baran as Dorothea
Joshua Warr as Blanchette
Michael James Valvo as Sophie
Nick Brennan as Roz
Michael Carrasco as Ricky Martin & Others
The Cutting Room
44 East 32nd Street
New York, New York 10010
The actors in Thank You For Being A Friend: An Unauthorized Golden Girls Musical Parody do their best to keep the energy level high, the jokes coming, and the dance numbers entertaining. The result is enthusiastic applause and a packed house of devoted fans of The Golden Girls, the popular television show starring Bea Arthur as Dorothy Zbornak, Rue McClanahan as Blanche Devereaux, Betty White as Rose Nylund, and Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo. Since this musical parody of that show is "unauthorized," we are introduced to Dorothea, Blanchette, Roz and Sophie, four women over 60 living in a wicker-filled home in Miami. Their quiet lifestyle is disturbed when Latin pop star Ricky Martin moves next door and starts holding loud, outdoor, pool parties where young, hot guys are having gay sex (no women allowed!). The girls ask him to keep the noise down and they get rebuffed and insulted. The solution agreed to is for both parties to enter the Shady Oaks Retirement Home Talent Show. If the sassy seniors win, Ricky agrees to end the parties. If he wins, the gals are going to have to be his maids (and clean up crew) at the pool parties for a month. Intrigue, deception, backstabbing and betrayal follow.
Familiar Golden Girls characters and themes are recognizable throughout the musical. Laszlo is competing in the contest and Stan is the Stage Manager. Even Fernando makes an appearance. The women exhibit the personalities of the characters they are supposed to be playing. Roz is still the lovable airhead who says that Ricky Martin "makes my muffins rise." Sophie, the wisecracking spitfire, went to observe the pool party and reported, "You should see the size of the pepperoni inside that meat market!". Blanchette, refusing to believe she wouldn't be able to seduce gay men (Ricky Martin included), is upset when he says "90% of the men at my pool party are mine." She says, "When I tell people you are into older women, that job will once again be mine!". Finally, we learn that Dorothea is going through "the change" and has been taking male hormones for quite some time, which explains her deep voice. (As one of the girls said, "You're becoming the grumpy old man we always knew you to be."). With the sex change complete, Stan is turned off when he becomes frisky but Blanchette tells Dorothea she better answer if she hears a knock on her bedroom door at 11:00 p.m. Ricky Martin reveals his "back door is always open if you're a guy," and that "the U.S. Navy considers him a friendly port." With Mark Anthony, Julio Iglesias and Charo as the Judges of the Talent Show, I think you can guess who won. The girls will now have to wear rain jackets and they are prepared "to take more shots to the face than Robin Givens at a lunch with Mike Tyson."
Thank You For Being A Friend: An Unauthorized Golden Girls Musical Parody had sold-old runs in 2009, 2010 and 2013. It is now back for its fourth limited-run engagement at The Cutting Room. Updates have been made and new actors have been cast for some of the roles. Before commenting individually, I should say all of the actors were appropriately dressed, spoke with the proper cadence, and nailed the hand gestures and movements of each of their characters. Joshua Warr was absolutely amazing as Blanchette. Michael James Valvo took Sophie to a new level since he could move faster and quicker than Sophia Petrillo could in the original television show. Michael Carrasco was perfect as Ricky Martin and showed his acting abilities and talent by convincingly playing a number of different minor characters (I will not comment on his pre-show performance as host of The Ultimate Golden Girls Trivia Challenge where he couldn't even remember which questions he had already asked). Charles Baran was excellent as Dorothea but instead of being tall (called "stretch"), he was quite visibly shorter than many of the other characters. Perhaps platform shoes could rectify this problem. As for Roz, I have to admit Nick Brennan was exuberant and tried to capture her spirit. However, I found his performance the most incongruent because he is too overweight to play the part and moved around the stage like a bull in a china shop. On the negative side, the technical engineer was sloppy, missing turning up the mic on the person singing/speaking over and over. It was as if the tech was "asleep at the switch." The story is weak and untenable. The songs are forgettable. I honestly can't remember a single one. But that having been said, the audience, hungry for anything and everything Golden Girls, seemed to love the show and have a fantastic time. I have no doubt you will too!
The show runs Sundays at 7:00 p.m. at The Cutting Room for at least six weeks and possibly longer. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. with a pre-show Trivia Challenge at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $24.00, with an additional $20.00 food/drink minimum. Call 212-352-3101 for reservations or visit www.thegoldengirlsmusical.com