BWW Reviews: GIRLS ONLY - THE SECRET COMEDY OF WOMEN is Fun Feminine Fare for All
Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein's GIRLS ONLY - THE SECRET COMEDY OF WOMEN took Houston by storm during its regional premier at Main Street Theater's Chelsea Market Location in 2012. It was so well-received that it was extended twice and did not close until February of 2013. Now, back by popular demand, Main Street Theater is bringing back the riotous romp that celebrates being a girl. As I walked into the intimate theater, there were groups of women everywhere talking giddily. Some were families, some were close friends, and some were even coworkers that had gotten together for a Girls' Night Out. Several were repeat offenders, coming back for their second time and bringing friends with them. There were even a few men who were brave enough to venture out and share in all of the laughter. After seeing the production, one thing is certainly clear: Houston can't get enough of this fun, feminine fare!
For those that are unfamiliar with this comedy, GIRLS ONLY - THE SECRET COMEDY OF WOMEN is the product of two close friends and improv actresses, Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein. Upon meeting as adults, the two realized that if they had only met as children they would have immediately been best friends. After sharing their teenage diaries with each other, the two put their talents together culminating in the fun and frivolous GIRLS ONLY. Through improvised scenes, scripted material, and catchy song and dance numbers, this show brings out everything that is fun and funny about being a girl. Little material is left untouched as the girls read from their diaries aloud and talk candidly about everything from puberty to body image. With such a funny and heartwarming show, the audience can't help but leave the theatre in a good mood and with the impression that being a girl is truly something special.
Direction by Luanne Nunes De Char, with Restaging by Eva De La Cruz, is perfectly paced and full of energy. From the moment that the audience walks in to take their seats, they feel as if they have been invited to an intimate slumber party. Viewers are immediately engaged as they see the two girls sitting in a bedroom, listening to music, and flipping through magazines. The direction and restaging of this production feels authentic. Although we are presented with over-the-top moments of comedy, and audience participation is highly encouraged, the direction and staging feels completely organic. At times it becomes very easy to forget that you are watching a show, and instead you begin to feel like you are having girl-talk with a couple of best friends.
Playing the two girls, Tracy Ahern and Shondra Marie are positively effervescent and fun to watch. They deftly keep the audience engaged and laughing from start to finish. From the very first moments that they are pictured on stage, the two girls make viewers feel at ease and welcome in their intimate setting. As the show begins, the chemistry between Tracy Ahern and Shondra Marie makes it believable that these two girls have been best friends for years. They laugh with each other over the silliest of things, finish each other's sentences, and most importantly, are instantly relatable in one way or another to some of our favorite girlhood pastimes.
Furthermore, Tracy Ahern and Shondra Marie do a good job making this show a shared experience. Eliciting audience participation throughout the performance, these girls ensure that every production is memorable in its own way. The two girls make a charming pair as they give us a run-down of women in history, sing and dance about one particular undergarment, and provide us with a few handy and hilarious craft ideas.
Scenic Design by Claire A. Jac Jones is perfectly reminiscent of a girl's bedroom, and works well in the intimate Chelsea Market venue. Complete with different posters, a lava lamp, and a record player, it is clear that attention was given to every detail large and small. Furthermore, like the material in this production, her Scenic Design strikes a chord of sweet nostalgia and is instantly relatable in one way or another to the audience.
Eric L. Marsh's Lighting Design for this production is simple but effective. He keeps the stage washed in subtly pink hues, maintaining focus on the girls. Furthermore, his Lighting Design allows viewers to play an integral part of this production as the lights are often lifted to include audience participation and make them feel like they are part of the party.
Properties Design by Tina Montgomery excels at showing-off each girl's individual personality while also placing an emphasis on the commonalities of girlhood. For example, both girls have diaries to read from and memory boxes to sort through, and while that common experience is shared, Tina Montgomery's Properties Design also illustrates how every girl is unique.
Deborah L. Anderson's Costume Design adds a fun flare to this production. It allows the girls to transition from skit to skit with ease and often causes a delightful array of giggles from the audience. Without giving away too much, some of her standout work includes the costuming for the number "It's Just My Bra," and the wonderful ballet sequence involving Pantyhose.
Upon seeing GIRLS ONLY - THE SECRET COMEDY OF WOMEN, it is immediately apparent why it was so popular during the original Houston run, and why so many have returned to see it again. Whether you're seeing this alone, with friends, or a special guy in your life (yes, boys like to laugh too!), and whether you are seeing it for the first time or coming back for more, this production ensures that everyone will leave with a smile on their face.
GIRLS ONLY - THE SCRET LIFE OF WOMEN is currently running at Main Street Theater's Chelsea Market Location. For more information and tickets, please visit http://www.girlsonlycomedy.com/ or http://mainstreettheater.com/mainstage/girlsonly.html. You can also call (713) 524 - 6706.
All photos by www.ricornellproductions.com, courtesy of Sydney Greenblatt Event Marketing.
Shondra Marie and Tracy Ahern are "Up For Puberty" in GIRLS ONLY.
Tracy Ahern and Shondra Marie showcase the GIRLS ONLY "Craft Corner."