THE BASICS: THE GOLDEN GIRLS: THE LOST EPISODES, VOL 2, another comedy by David Cerda in a popular drag franchise, directed by Todd Warfield, runs through November 21 on the Alleyway Theatre Main Stage, Thursday – Sunday at 7:30 pm, Saturday – Sunday at 3:00 Note: Extra matinees have been added to accommodate sell-out dates, so check back here frequently.
New bar with liquor license in the newly decorated lobby. (Sippy cups may be taken into the theater space). Photo Ops on set with cast available after each performance (masks on, their camera, photos posted to Facebook). Runtime: 95 minutes including one intermission
SOME HISTORY, IF YOU DON’T KNOW IT: “The Golden Girls” was an American comedy television series created by Susan Harris that aired on NBC from September 14, 1985, to May 9, 1992, with a total of 180 half-hour episodes spanning seven seasons. The show starred Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty and Beatrice (Bea) Arthur as three widows and one divorcée who shared friendship and a home in Miami. The show’s theme song was “Thank You for Being A Friend.”
THUMBNAIL SKETCH: This is a parody or homage to that show and the familiar characters Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, and Sophia are played on stage respectively by Michael Wachowiak, Joey Bucheker, Michael Bebe Blasdell, and Jessica K. Rasp. In lieu of the theme song, the audience is led in a sing-along to “Thank You for Being a Friend” and then the play, like the original TV show, is made up of short scenes, most ending with a punchline or a suggestive “reveal” followed by a quick fade to black. Two actors (Matthew Rittler as “Man 1” and Mark Montondo as “Man 2” play various “utility” roles as announcers, game show hosts, and scouts. During the evening there are two “a word from our sponsor” skits and two audience participation Golden Girls trivia contests. (The prize is a Golden Girls prayer candle, also available for sale at the bar.)
THE PLAYERS, THE PLAY, AND THE PRODUCTION: Based on the raucous audience on the 3rd night of this play’s run, I believe that what’s drawing many people to this play (and many to the Alleyway for the first time) is partly the fun of seeing men in drag, partly a desire for something “naughty,” but mostly a deep affection for the television series and a desire to spend time once again with much-loved characters.
After Artistic Director Chris Handley asked for a show of hands from “first time visitors to the Alleyway,” it was apparent this play is a great opportunity to draw in a sizeable new audience and perhaps to get people to realize that there’s more to The Theatre District than just Shea’s Performing Arts Center. Next month, the much more family friendly A CHRISTMAS CAROL will serve the same role.
The play has the feel of a series of SNL skits. If you watch that television show, you know those skits usually have great sets, costumes, make-up and wigs and, if you’re a regular viewer, you also know that some skits are pretty stupid while others are pretty funny. But which ones are better? Well, that’s a matter of audience taste. At the theater sometimes I guffawed at a number of jokes and sometimes the audience around me roared at others.
All the technical elements were spot on, especially the set by Christopher Rhoton with set dressing by Todd Warfield, about as perfect a recreation of the TV set as you can get on a stage.
All the technical elements were spot on, especially the set by Christopher Rhoton with set dressing by Todd Warfield, about as perfect a recreation of the TV set as you can get on a stage. As in the TV show, the kitchen and living room held most of the action, suitably decorated with 1980’s kitsch. The casting, while uneven, had some delights. Two years ago Guy Tomassi was fabulous as Dorothy and this year it was Michael Wachowiak in that role. This young man’s acting abilities just get better and better every time I see him on stage.
Actor Mark Montondo as “Man 2” in several utility roles was, at first, just okay, with limited material to work with. He was better in the “sponsor” moments, but as the host of audience participation “Jeopardy” he was hilarious, running the show, ad-libbing with three on-stage audience members/contestants. There’s nothing like out-of-town work to hone an actor’s skills and Montondo has extensive experience in New York City, especially with his drag personality “Ms. Golden Delicious.”
Joey Bucheker, who himself is the creator of the drag persona “Betsy Carmichael” also delivered an amusing send-up of Rose. Bucheker even “gets down” and as Rose wins a dance contest when an old infirmity kicks in. Unfortunately, those playing the other two roles, Blanche and Sophia, hadn’t improved their performances since 2019.
If it isn’t clear to you yet, the production is raunchy and not for children.
If it isn’t clear to you yet, the production is raunchy and not for children. On the website, you are advised that if you have questions about show content or age-appropriateness, you should call The Alleyway box office at 716-852-2600. But, seriously, if you have questions, then this is not the show for you.
Standing Room Only Policy: For all sold-out performances, a waiting list for SRO tickets will begin in person one hour prior to showtime. $25, cash only. Rush Ticket Policy: For all other performances, a waiting list for rush tickets will begin in person one hour prior to showtime. Based on availability, a select number of rush tickets may be sold 30 minutes prior to showtime when the performance is not sold out. $25, cash only.
Is this the end of the franchise? I doubt it. The playwright, David Cerda, whose Chicago-based “Hell in a Handbag Productions” (HIAH) specializes in campy sendups is “dedicated to the preservation, exploration, and celebration of works ingrained in the realm of popular culture via theatrical productions through parody, music and homage.” (He also created POSEIDON! AN UPSIDE-DOWN MUSICAL produced by Buffalo United Artists in 2014) The last time I looked into it, the HIAH website implied that there’s always a possibility for future editions of GOLDEN GIRLS: THE LOST EPISODES.
UP NEXT: The Alleyway’s 39th annual production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL December 2 – 23. Now that IS appropriate for all ages.
Planning to apply for college or grad school theatre programs? The Alleyway has an AUDITION PREP series, starting November 14.
Also note that there are acting and other theater-related classes for adults. Visit their website alleyway.com/education
*HERD OF BUFFALO (Notes on the Rating System)
ONE BUFFALO: This means trouble. A dreadful play, a highly flawed production, or both. Unless there is some really compelling reason for you to attend (i.e. you are the parent of someone who is in it), give this show a wide berth.
TWO BUFFALOS: Passable, but no great shakes. Either the production is pretty far off base, or the play itself is problematic. Unless you are the sort of person who’s happy just going to the theater, you might look around for something else.
THREE BUFFALOS: I still have my issues, but this is a pretty darn good night at the theater. If you don’t go in with huge expectations, you will probably be pleased.
FOUR BUFFALOS: Both the production and the play are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley, I would make a real effort to attend.
FIVE BUFFALOS: Truly superb–a rare rating. Comedies that leave you weak with laughter, dramas that really touch the heart. Provided that this is the kind of show you like, you’d be a fool to miss it!
Lead image: Photo Op with L-R Mark Montondo, Jessica Rasp, Michael Blasdell, Joey Bucheker, Michael Wachowiak and two audience members