We spoke with Lu Zielinski about the legacy of The Golden Girls, her favorite part about playing Blanche, honoring Betty White, and more.

By: Jan. 10, 2022

You will soon have the chance to experience love, laughter, friendship and... puppets(!) when That Golden Girls Show! A Puppet Parody comes to the Kimmel Cultural Campus' Merriam Theater on Tuesday, January 11, 2022, at 7:30 p.m.

Enjoy an evening of cheesecake, laughter, jazzercise, shoulder pads, sex, and the elegant art of the quick-witted put down with everyone's favorite Girls: Blanche (Lu Zielinski), Sophia (Miranda Cooper), Dorothy (Dylan Glick) and Rose (Samantha Lee Mason).

Tickets can be purchased by calling 215-893-1999 or online

We spoke with Lu Zielinski about the legacy of The Golden Girls, her favorite part about playing Blanche, honoring Betty White, and much more!

The legacy of The Golden Girls lives on so strongly, it's so beloved, what can audiences expect to see with That Golden Girls Show! A Puppet Parody?

You can expect to see all of your favorite characters brought to life with puppets, which is outrageous in itself, but so delightfully funny! It's 75 minutes of just pure joy. I swear, you laugh for 73 of those minutes, the other two you are catching your breath. We just have a ball. The structure that we're working with is we do three mini-episodes of what we assume the life of The Golden Girls would continue to be outside of the show. And they're outrageous, and they're heartwarming, and it's just a great time.

It sounds like a great time! Did you grow up watching The Golden Girls?

I did actually! My babysitter when I was a kid, we would watch an hour of The Price is Right, followed by two episodes of The Golden Girls. And they are core memories that I have, eating toast with butter and cinnamon sugar on top, watching the Golden Girls slam into each other and ruthlessly but lovingly insult the others, and it was so fun. Half of the jokes at the time went over my head, but re-watching the show... I had the first season with me when I moved into college, that was the one thing that I brought, I had that DVD. I was like, "We have to watch this show!" It has been a part of my life for a very long time.

I love that!

It's wild, I don't know what inspired my babysitter to turn it on, but it was just something we watched and I loved it.

And you are playing Blanche -first of all, what an iconic, fun character- what is your favorite part about playing Blanche?

Oh god, there's so much. In terms of puppetry, I had zero puppetry experience prior to this. So, this whole experience has been such an amazing gift. I describe the rehearsal process: Learning a piano concerto with no sheet music and in a Southern dialect. Puppetry is so difficult, and we don't give puppeteers nearly enough credit, because it is so, so hard, but so wonderful. And so, I think my favorite part so far has really just been learning this brand new skill set, and being able to come out and be slinky, and sexy, and outrageous, and fun.

We've all had so much time off with the pandemic too. This is my first gig back from the pandemic, and it's also a career milestone for me, I've always wanted to tour. And I've been waiting ten years of my career to finally get a national tour, and this is my opportunity. So, there are so many career milestones that I've checked off that I count my blessings every day for, because it's just been so magical from top to bottom. My cast is just wonderful, we've all blended and gelled so beautifully, I'm just spoiled rotten. All of it has been my favorite part.

On that note, how has it been for you during this time, not only being able to get back on stage and perform, but also travel with this show?

It's been wild. We travel together in a minivan, there are five of us, the four girls and our amazing swing. The five of us travel together so we get very, very close. And then our incredible stage manager and assistant stage manager travel with the truck, and they carry the set back and forth to wherever we go. I've wanted the opportunity to explore the US, and what a better way to do it? I'm obsessed with Memphis, Memphis was the best place we've gone so far! I'm in love with Memphis. And now that we're about to head into the second leg, we're about to head out west. So, I think in about two weeks we end up in Fargo, and we're in the Dakotas, which I never thought I'd make it to, and now I'm like, "Okay, well, let's go in the dead of winter, let's do this!" The travel has been so fun, we get to go to all these amazing cities.

And the audiences across the board have been so receptive to this show, and it's been amazing to be able to play for everybody. That's the one thing I really find myself so thankful and grateful for, is that we are able to continue to run our show. Especially now, with variants becoming what they are, and it's getting a little scary again, I have not taken an ounce of it for granted, because we never know. So if we're going out there, we're making every ounce of our breath count. Every second counts, and it's just been so wonderful.

Absolutely. And what do you think it is about The Golden Girls that it has had such staying power?

I love their brutal honesty with one another. And it really gave a group of four really strong women the opportunity to be unabashedly themselves, and to be so honest with one another that the TV audience got to see what it's like to have a real friend. Because those are the people that you're brutally honest with, and you care for the deepest, and you're not afraid to say anything to them. And at the end of the day, even if it's really rough, you know that they're there to fall back on. And I think it really just shows friendship at its core, and what it means to be a good friend. And our show does that too. There are some really beautiful moments of friendship, and no matter what happens, you always have somebody to fall back on.

America's sweetheart and Golden Girl Betty White recently passed away, the longest living Golden Girl. How does it feel for you all in the cast getting to step on stage and of course, make people laugh, but also honor the memory of these incredible women?

We are so unbelievably lucky. We have our own group chat and when Betty died, all of us just screamed 'NO!' to each other. We have a photo of the girls hugging each other as our group chat logo, and our Rose, Sam [Samantha Lee Mason], she is just amazing. Everybody is so amazing in their roles, but I know that she has done extensive research on Betty's life, and she was making a whole big to-do for Betty's birthday, which is on the 17th. We are so lucky to get to continue to share her story, and Betty's whole mantra on life was bring kindness and laughter to the world and then everything will work out. And that's exactly what our show does, it gives you this opportunity to escape from all of the scary things that are happening outside, and just be at home with your family and be at home with your friends, with the Girls.

We have a line at the end of the show, "What's going to happen when there's only one of us left?" And for the longest time, we were like, "Oh man, this is just so true." And now it's like, oh we have to say that again, and Betty's not here. I know she is having a big old piece of cheesecake with the girls right now, and looking over our little show and making sure that we're still honoring their legacy.

That Golden Girls Show! A Puppet Parody is currently touring the US, with stops in Ohio, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, Texas and more!

For tour info, CLICK HERE!

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