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BWW Album Review: Exploring Laughs and Loneliness with SALAD DAYS

A ten-minute musical with a darkly comic twist

BWW Album Review: Exploring Laughs and Loneliness with SALAD DAYS

Within the first few lines of the opening song of Salad Days, the mini-musical already tells you exactly what it's going to be: a delightful, deliberately modern comedy that lightly pokes fun at the markers of urban millennial life. Where else would you find references to Zumba, wheatgrass shots, and Luna bars alongside a jazzy little tribute to the joys of squad lunches and leafy greens? From the very start, it's clear that this is a more satirical (although, let's be honest, truer to life) version of the four-person gal-pal squad that has been a pop culture staple from Sex and the City to Girls and more.

The trick is in the tone. It would be all too easy to just play around with the girl-squad tropes or, alternately, parody to the point of meanness. Ratner's peppy, poppy music and playful lyrics are more in the vein of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's pointed parody, albeit a little goofier and a little less sharp-edged. The plot is simple enough: four best friends and former sorority sisters (Lindsey Brett Carothers, Lilli Cooper, Cassie Levine, and Solea Pfeiffer) meet up for their regular lunch at Bloomingdale's, where one of them is freaking out about her upcoming wedding and trying out a dangerous new trend.

For the most part, the light, breezy parody works well, although a few lines of the "salad" references don't hit as well as they could ("We meet for salad, tossed or chopped / Five years out, we haven't stopped" is cute, but a little forced). There's a genuinely touching emotional throughline beneath it all, though: the concern that, once they start getting married, their friendship will change or even fade away altogether. Excellent satire mixes the relatable with the absurd, and that's where this show really finds its sweet spot.

Things take a turn for the ridiculous - in a good way - when waiter Bartolomeo (Ryan Vona) arrives to take their orders. Vona hams it up for every second of "Bartolomeo Knows" and "Belladonna," which start out evoking the "hyper-competent waiter" comedy of She Loves Me's "Romantic Atmosphere" or Easter Parade's "Salad Francois" scene and quickly shifts into something a little more dramatic as each woman thinks back on what their romantic partners have (and haven't) really understood about them. On the surface, it's incredibly silly, but dig a little deeper, and it's actually pretty heartbreaking as it exposes their dissatisfaction with their lives and a hint of real, even desperate loneliness.

The last couple of minutes of the musical take a bizarrely dramatic turn that doesn't quite seem to match the rest of the show - we thought we were watching Girls, but it turns out we're actually watching Heathers! The humor gleaned from the big twist and the final song, "Salad Days (Reprise)" is all the funnier for its darkness, but the movement of the plot that got us there feels like we skipped a character motivation step along the way. Even satire needs to follow some line of logic, and the twist just falls shy of getting us to buy into it. Nonetheless, it's a successful ten-minute show as a whole, managing to pack a lot of laughs, witty wordplay, and catchy melodies into its short runtime - it's worth every minute.


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From This Author Amanda Prahl