BWW Review: THE GOLDEN GIRLS MUSICAL at Project Spotlight
After twelve years of existing, Project Spotlight, the only student developmental theater organization at the University of Central Florida, has finally branched out and created a full-length musical. The Golden Girls Musical, with book by Colin Brooks, music by Benjamin Walton, and lyrics by Brooks and Walton, is their first attempt into this new landscape, and for the most part, it is successful.
Being a fan of the original source material, I was afraid that I would be walking into a show where 4 young actors were trying to either impersonate the large and bold characters of the show or were trying to personify an older person. Luckily, for the most part, this is not the case. The only actor who chose to be a character actor the entire time was Hayley Strubbe, who portrayed Sophia, but this choice felt 100% like the right choice to make. Strubbe's Sophia has the same timing and wit as the original character, but then still shines through as her own character when she gets her musical opportunities. While all 4 of the leading ladies have good moments in the show, it is Strubbe who shines through as being the breakout star of this production.
Speaking of the music, Walton and Brooks have done a good job of not only picking a variety of styles of music to fit into this 75-minute musical, but they did so while creating music that fit well into the Golden Girls universe. There was one point where I thought to myself, this is what a musical episode of The Golden Girls would have sounded like. My main concern with the music is that some of the songs felt that they were not fully fleshed out and formed yet. Some of the songs such as "Man I used to know," and (as I am calling it) the "Cheesecake Song," were full-length numbers that added to the story, but there were other shorter songs that seemed to be songs that were the beginning of songs we will hear finished later in this production's history.
Another concern I had for this musical was how Brooks was going to create conflict as he has a lot to choose from in the source material. Brooks has decided to use Stan and Dorothy's relationship as the main source of conflict. This is a unique choice because it allowed him to create a Dorothy that is more vulnerable than we saw in most Golden Girls episodes. It allowed Dorothy, portrayed by Nicole Netherton, to show a full range of acting and singing abilities to create a fully fleshed out character.
Where The Golden Girls Musical shines the most is in its use of the source material. Brooks has done a wonderful job of weaving show specific lines such as Stan's "Hi, it's me, Stan," and Sophia's "Picture it, Sicily, 1942," into his new story which makes for a very accessible show. I do not feel you need to binge watch Golden Girls to understand the humor that Brooks is attempting to create. The story could still use a little tweaking to be a more coherent story but it is a great beginning. This is a show you are going to want to say you saw in its infant stage because I believe it has the potential to go quite far.
The Golden Girls Musical is playing at the UCF Visual Arts Building auditorium on Friday, March 3 and Saturday, March 4 at 7:30 PM. Tickets are free and the show starts promptly at 7:30 PM.