NEW YORK—This writer was one of four men in the audience, among a crowd of approximately 200 women. “Girls Night: The Musical” is just that—a show intended entirely for females as evident in the tone, jokes, subject matter, and songs.
As a result, men may feel a bit left out with the proceedings or watch them more as bemused spectators rather than participants.
Said crowd included a selection of New Yorkers, Jerseyites, tourists, as well as a bachelorette party and one woman celebrating her divorce. (It should be noted that there were few, if any, male bashing jokes, and although men are not present on stage, they are certainly talked about, many in a sympathetic manner.)
As for the show itself, it presents an interesting take on the premise of a “girls night out” or “girls gone clubbing.” However, all the attempts to draw the audience into the partying can’t disguise the problems with the story and plot.
The story begins with a gathering of old friends at a local club. There’s Anita (Justine Hall), who suffers from manic depression, and who has spent more than her share of time in the hospital; Carol (Carly Sakolove), a two-time divorcee and all-around party girl; and Liza (Yvette Monique Clark), a woman so afraid her husband will leave her (as her father did her mother), she’s afraid to tell him she loves him.
There's also Kate (Laurie Gardner), Carol’s younger, plain-Jane sister, who is still viewed as the tagalong kid from their childhood and not quite one of the group. Kate also has a somewhat contentious relationship with Carol, and there’s more than a bit of sibling rivalry between the two.
The four women have gathered to celebrate the birthday of Sharon (Renée Colvert), who also acts as the show’s narrator. She fills in background information, talks directly to the audience, and injects her own personal point of view at certain moments. Sharon has also been dead for the last 22 years (a fact revealed almost immediately).
The women are also celebrating the engagement of Sharon’s daughter, who was just a baby when her mom died. As the evening goes on, and alcohol is consumed, secrets, fears, and anger come pouring out from the earthbound quartet, while the unseen Sharon looks on, desperately trying to write, or rewrite, her own versions of the facts.
The show starts off with a lot of potential, but problems occur when writer Louise Roche and adapter Betsy Kelso attempt to mix the genres of comedy, drama, and music. Quite often the women, in order to facilitate the “girls night out” theme of the show, break into song, and the numbers, although enjoyable at times (if incredibly over-amplified), have almost nothing to do with moving the story along.
Acting by the ladies is fine, if somewhat one-dimensional. Each woman gets to take center stage, but then drops into the group once again, with none given a chance to explore their storylines as deeply as could be.
The set by Shaun L. Motley is okay, depicting one of those innumerable suburban club locations, but the costumes by Karl Ruckdeschel are a bit cheesy. Direction by Jack Randle is weak at times, with his efforts often clashing with the style and emphasis of Musical Director Joseph Thalken.
“Girls Night: The Musical” will probably have a life in the touring circuit as the theatrical equivalent of a “chick flick.” However, as with many shows of this ilk, it’s probably better viewing with a drink at the ready.
Girls Night: The Musical
Downstairs Cabaret Theatre at Sofia’s
221 West 46th Street
Tickets: 212-947-9300 or www.girlsnightthemusical.com
Running Time: 2 hours
Closes: Oct. 4
Judd Hollander is the New York correspondent for the London publication The Stage.