BWW Review: Women are 'Stronger Together Than Alone' in THE BACHELOR GIRLS
It's a time of change for the women of The Bachelor Girls-and that means swing dancing, ditching their corsets, and learning to be an independent woman in 1920s London.
The Bachelor Girls was a part of the fourth annual She NYC Arts Festival, which strives to provide women writers, composers, and directors with resources to jump-start their careers in the theater industry. At the beginning of the show, we are introduced to Cecily, Gertie, and Molly, three best friends about to set off on their own. In the typical "I am" song fashion, the three girls confide in the audience their hopes and dreams-getting married, becoming a typist, and dancing, respectfully. However, as the show progresses, the women face trials that school did not prepare them for, but fear not: they had "The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Everything," which guides them through the rest of the story. The characters followed typical tropes, and the story was predictable, yet charming. The girls' lives are told through catchy songs, excellent choreography, and endearing relationships.
The Bachelorettes (Caitlyn Calfas, Maria Reginaldi, Stephanie Maloney), three crooning vocalists, guide the audience through the story and make comments about the action on stage. Their expressive entertainment is a delightful addition to the show. Once the girls head out into the "real world," they discover it's not as easy (or fun) to be a woman as they thought. Gertie (Lucy Anders) accepts a typist position, but quits after realizing the unfair wage gap between her and her male colleagues. She decides to become a suffragette. Molly (Kelly Berman) is the caretaker of her sickly Aunt Smythe, who does not approve of her choices to go out dancing in dresses that fall above her ankle. Cecily (Lael Van Keuren) becomes a nanny, and, by the persuasion of The Bachelorettes, places ad after ad in "Matrimonial Monthly" in hopes of finding an available suitor.
The ensemble was delightful, often putting on different personas along with new hats, cloaks, or mannerisms. Tracy Bidleman stole the show as Aunt Smythe, the bitter, traditional aunt who later reveals that she always wanted to be a part of The Bachelorettes. She then commences in a full dance number where she is the star of the singing group. Anders, Berman, and Van Keuren are likeable and their storytelling was engaging- not for a moment was the audience bored. The music and choreography exhibited the entire casts' excellent vocals and dance ability. The songs only added to the story, rather taking attention away from it.
A musical about the Roaring 20s may not seem to be relevant at first, but as the story progresses, the political and social applicability are made evident. Gertie continues to get more and more involved in politics, and creates a voice for herself. After ten years of trying to find a suitor via magazine ads, Cecily goes back to the girls college to teach mathematics. Molly married her sweetheart, and creates a scholarship for girls to continue their education. The musical ends with an inspiring ensemble number that gives audience a satisfying ending. The women declare through song that "the Bachelor Girl can be strong as a soldier, brave as a bulldog, and firm as a fortress." At the very end, the actresses line up and give a chronological history of British women who paved the way for their successors from 1920-1930.
This fast-paced musical kept audiences laughing and enchanted. With a darling book and cohesive score written by Caroline Wigmore and Jen Green, The Bachelor Girls is perfect for the whole family. This is also a strong show to be considered producing in academic theater. The musical ultimately leaves the audience with an uplifting message-declaring that women are "stronger together than alone."
Photos by Shoshana Medney