note: entire contents copyright 2011 by Sheila Barth
It’s one big, R-rated bachelorette party for women of all ages at Stoneham Theatre’s bawdy, raunchy musical, “Girls Night: The Musical,” that swept the British Isles since 2003, and has North Shore women dancing in the aisles, singing anthemic women’s songs with gusto. The play has toured the US since May 2007.
Getting into the swing of things before the show, several theatergoers bought shocking pink boas and blinking tiaras ($5 each), in the lobby, sipped margaritas and champagne, then swooped up T-shirts and CDs ($20 each) during the 20-minute intermission and after the show.
Besides a grid of flashing brilliant pink-and-purple lights on stage, the air bristles with electricity as Marianne Haaland, (who’s originally from Norway), portrays narrator Sharon. She’s all decked out, head-to-toe, in glittery white, with angel wings and revs up the audience, evoking sounds and claps, encouraging everyone to sing and dance throughout the show.
“Girl’s Night: The Musical” has a story line that interweaves 14 female-themed songs to enhance Roche’s thin plot and dialog. Sharon explains she has been dead for 22 years. She fell off a moped, leaving her parents to raise her daughter, Candy Rose, whom she delivered, unmarried, at 16 years old.
Her longtime best friends - Anita, (Alissa Stahler) who has “issues,” but whose husband adores her; outspoken Liza, (Jenna Paige Gagliardo), who has three children and thinks she’s pregnant again; and Carol (Kerrin Elizabeth Clark), who is big, bawdy, married twice, and intolerant of her geeky younger sister, Kate (Chelsea Minton), a married. timid schoolteacher with two children. The thirty- and fortysomething gals are meeting in a karaoke bar to celebrate Candy Rose’s engagement and reminisce about Sharon.
Dressed in Jennifer Kules’ outlandish costumes, the entire cast is effective, slightly over-acting, inspiring the nearly all-women audience to let it all hang out and laugh like guys on a raucous all-night drunk. As the four women share stories, swap secrets, and take turns at the microphone, loudly warbling karaoke songs, the not-so-angelic Sharon hovers over them, while explaining past events to us. She wishes she were as visible and audible to her buddies as they are to her.
Although all 14 well-known cover songs are effective, Stahler brings the house down in the first act with a soulful rendition of “The Love of My Man,” unleashing her amazing vocal range and power, then in the second act with a searing rendition of “I Am What I Am”.
Minton draws naughty chuckles when she gets tipsy and dances with a blow-up male doll with exaggerated attributes; Clark delivers a red-hot rendition of “Don’t Cry Out Loud” and leads the quintet in a stirring “Holding out for a Hero;” while Gagliardo shines in a bombastic solo, “It’s Raining Men”.
Besides the surprise ending that ties all loose ends together, the gals go full tilt into finale numbers, “We Are Family” and Shania Twain’s “Man, I Feel Like a Woman”.
This cast proves girls just want to have fun, and they ensure everyone does. The packed audience shimmied and danced out of the theater, singing together, swinging their boas and their behinds, while the handful of men cringed, wishing they had watched the Bruins game on TV instead - like Sharon suggested to a man in the fifth row.
BOX INFO: Two-act, two-hour musical comedy, written by British playwright-author-TV producer, Louise Roche, adapted by Betsy Kelso, directed by Sonya Carter. Appearing now through June 19, at Stoneham Theatre (395 Main St., Stoneham), on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 4,8 p.m.; Sunday, 2,6 p.m.; additional senior matinee, Wednesday, June 15, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $38-$44, senior, subscriber, member discounts. Call 781-279-2200 or visit www.stonehamtheatre.org.