NUNN'S THEATER HABIT
The Golden Girls set out to save Xmas
Sun. December 3, 2023 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn
The Golden Girls are out to Save Xmas and the results are a mixed Handbag. This is the 80th show from Hell in a Handbag Productions in over 23 years of making campy magic onstage.
Leadership within Handbag has found a new home for this production and an upcoming fundraiser at The Hoover-Leppen Theatre at The Center on Halsted, 3656 North Halsted Street in Chicago. While Mary's Attic had a grassroots feel to it in the Andersonville area, this space is more modern and located in Lakeview.
The Golden Girls Save Xmas - A Lost Episode Parody is not based on a previous episode of the iconic television series as some of the past endeavors from this same group. There are two holiday episodes to pull from for a parody of the series with season two's episode ll titled 'Twas the Nightmare Before Christmas, where the women were held hostage, and the time the girls volunteered at a soup kitchen on Christmas Day.
This tall tale revolves around Blanche causing too much merriment with Nick the night before his big toy delivery. Jolly old Saint Nicholas gets around town and has left a trail of broken hearts after he climbs back up the chimney to exit the building. The character could be expanded on with more ho, ho, ho jokes and where's his traditional beard?
From the beginning too many cooks are added to grandma's kitchen and the focus is quickly shifted from the four main Miami gals to the secondary players. There are suddenly 12 performing disciples strewn across the stage vying for scene time. Two standouts take the ball and run.
Kelly Bolton as Doreen is a diamond in the rough and should be auditioning for Saturday Night Live immediately. Tyler Anthony Smith is the other one and takes the bit part of Kyle the elf to a new level as he chews up every scene-stealing moment with devilish pleasure.
Nancy Drew doesn't have a mystery to solve here and even complains about having nothing to do. Mrs. Claus is underused also, why not have her cat fighting with Blanche about stealing her man?
The writing could use some tightening, for example, Bewitched used the dialogue of forgetting a character's name to great effect, not The Golden Girls and those jokes fall flat. The jabs lean towards mean and don't always capture the spirit of the OGs.
Ed Jones as Rose can recite the ingredients of a cereal box and make it humorous, but a review of the original Golden Girls' inflections and mannerisms would be beneficial to all four of the main cast members. Something can be learned from the recent Golden Gals Live! in terms of mimicking vocals and brushing up on past episodes of the iconic sitcom could fine-tune the project.
The Handbag creative team has really stepped up their game in terms of costuming for this particular production. Madeline Felauer has done an excellent job overall and spent that Golden-Con money well.
The troupe has also come a long way with their sets and props. Some of the puppetry that was used in Christmas Dearest has been axed and shaved down to a simple sleigh handheld device to convey travel instead.
Keep in mind, these talented entertainers have always been like a fine wine as they age with time during the run of each show and relax with the script. The Golden Girls save Xmas by the end and Hell in a Handbag Productions has saved the Chicago theater scene in many ways by not taking itself so seriously. The Golden Girls Save Xmas is just the beginning of a campy season programmed for a New Year. Sit back, eat a piece of cheesecake and enjoy the slay ride!
Skate over to handbagproductions.com for tickets before December 30, 2023.
Don't forget to save a little cash for Handbag's annual benefit Peep Show on December 10, 2023, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sneak peeks to two upcoming shows, raffles, food and drinks are all part of the Peep Show's party plans!