BWW Review: THE LOST VIRGINITY TOUR Shares a Funny and Heartfelt Bonding Journey Between Four BFFs of a Certain Age
Women of a certain age. That used to be a death knell for excellent artistic opportunities for great actors in not only film but on stage as well. But thanks to playwright Cricket Daniel and compassionate director Kristin Towers-Rowles, that myth may as well fly out the window of a red convertible forever thanks to the Los Angeles premiere of THE LOST VIRGINITY TOUR at the intimate McCadden Theatre in Hollywood!
Beginning in the Happy Trails Retirement Resort in Arizona as four friends meet for their monthly Baking Club get-together, pledging their devotion via kitchen utensils, each unique personality is brought to life with remarkable clarity by the talented actors Towers-Rowles was fortunate enough to trust with this funny, profound, provocative and adventurous road trip through their memories of "the first time."
From "hot buns" Viola (vivacious redhead Joy Rinaldi) who claims to be in the best shape of her life thanks to Pilates, to her arch nemesis and golf cart companion Kitty (Toni Perrotta), an abundantly curvy and raised-to-be-proper Southern Belle who constantly sucks on an unlit cigarette, to the most senior and appreciative-for-attention Elaine (silver-haired Madonna McGee), and finally the efficient, well-groomed and long-married Rita (Paulette Dozier, a spicy woman of color), these four characters conjure up a comical examination of the choices we make that shape our lives forever and the friendships that hold us up when we can't walk on our own during THE LOST VIRGINITY TOUR. And by the end, you will probably wish you could join them on their journey!
Daniel cleverly explores topics which so many women deal with when recalling the details and ramifications of the first time we allowed ourselves to be intimate with a partner. Certainly, anyone reading this can recall their "first time" and may wonder "what if" the situation could have been changed or the outcome different? The universal topic of wondering what happened to a lost love or a non-disclosed #MeToo experience are brought to light using humor and deep-felt empathy, with Tower-Rowles and her actors drawing you in and never letting go of your heart and soul.
While mining the importance of female issues, right down to Rita's constant need to pee or Viola's need to dominate every discussion, the women talk about the progress made in the past few decades relating to female empowerment as they look at how they behaved in the past. Then, in several instances, finally learn to forgive themselves for events that were not their fault and move forward with a more positive outlook on relationships. No doubt you will take a look at how decisions you made relating to your first love have determined your own ability to be in/maintain all the loving relationships that have followed afterwards.
And during their final visit to a rustic cabin in the Colorado mountains, Elaine finds the hidden time capsule she and her first lover left there. McGee's intimately expressed, heartfelt longing for her lost love after discovering a missive from him will ignite the dream in many of us that the "one that got away" is still out there looking for us too. And if you feel the same way, do your best to reach out now before it's too late. Trust me, and all the women involved in this production, on that one.
Technical credits are wonderfully effective in the small 48-seat theater, making great use of the staircase between set levels thanks to scenic design by Peter Hickok, lighting design by Derek Jones, with character-revealing costume design by Halei Parker. Even the way each of the four women wear their bright pink THE LOST VIRGINITY TOUR t-shirts says a lot about each of them. Adding to the overall fun of the show is projection design by Nicholas Santiago which includes scenes in Viola's red convertible during all of the quartet's travels, right down to Rita's frequent bathroom visits to Kitty's suffering through bug bites thanks to her cheap Rose perfume. Of course, locals may recognize many places not in New Jersey, North Carolina, Colorado, Arizona and at Ball State in Indiana, but I guarantee as you get caught up in the excitement of each moment, that won't make a difference.
No doubt you will take away your own lesson learned along this imaginary tale of self-examination and friendship between friends you can trust with not only your secrets but your life. And certainly Daniel's inventive storyline which allows us to see mature women as more than grandmothers knitting in their rocking chairs, but as vibrant, athletic beings still interested in sex, love, and being personally happy with their life choices, should encourage everyone in the audience to do exactly the same thing - no matter your age! Perhaps several will even Take That first step and set out on their own lost virginity tour and turn their own lives around.
The Los Angeles premiere of Cricket Daniel's mid-life comedy THE LOST VIRGINITY TOUR, expertly directed by Kristin Towers-Rowles, continues through May 5, 2019 on Friday and Saturday at 8pm; Sunday at 3pm at The McCadden Theatre, 1157 McCadden Place, Hollywood, 90038. Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 seniors and students, and may be purchased online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4191014 or by calling (800) 838-3006. Available seats will be on sale at the box office, but given the very intimate capacity, please order in advance and allow time for street-only parking.
Photos by Michelle Hanzelova