Vince Kelley takes on stage role as iconic Golden Girl Blanche Devereaux in theatrical tour
Fri. February 2, 2024 by Matt Inawat
We like to say it's as if the show never went off the air; it just moved from cable to streaming
The stage production of the Golden Girls The Laugh Continues arrives in Chicago Feb 6-25
Hilarious parody production, GOLDEN GIRLS: THE LAUGHS CONTINUE will play Broadway In Chicago’s Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place (175 E. Chestnut) for a limited three-week engagement, February 6-25, 2024.
The professional stage show is written by Robert Leleux, author of The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy and The Living End. The show is directed by Eric Swanson, who was the co-founder and Executive Director of The Detroit Actors’ Theatre Company. The cast includes Ryan Bernier as Dorothy, Vince Kelley as Blanche, Adam Graber as Rose, Christopher Kamm as Sophia, and Jason Bowen as Stanley/Burt.
Vince Kelly ("Blanche Devereaux") gave us a peek into the show and the cast of the production.
MI (Matt Inawat, GoPride): Vince, congratulations on the role and the success of the Golden Girls show! Tell us about the production based on our beloved and iconic ladies.
VK (Vince Kelley): The production is just as iconic. We have gathered just a whole crew of absolutely wonderful fabulous talented impersonators who bring you a lost episode of The Golden Girls. We like to say it's as if the show never went off the air - it just moved from cable to streaming; so that we can pepper up the language a little bit and keep the situations a little fun and fresh.
It's just a continuation. All the tropes are there; that is exactly the same. They're still wearing the clothes from the 1980's, but they've just been plopped into 2024 and they're here to have a good time.
Sophia is out off jail, or out on bail, from uh selling, selling some drugs get some extra money. Sophia loves this game and she's got a big old ankle monitor on for house arrest and then Dorothy's trying to deal with all of that. Rose and Blanche are on one of their classic messes and they've started a new business venture which is like Grindr for old people. It's a little Tindr-Grindr combination, little dating-slash-sex app. And through that app, they convince Dorothy to finally join. Everyone knows that Dorothy's always been a little unlucky in love for 99% of the show and she finds a wonderful younger hot man who just happens to be Sophia's prosecuting attorney. So, insanity ensues obviously!
MI: I can't imagine the joy and tears this brings to the audience! What inspired you to take on the role of Blanche Devereaux in the first place?
Golden Girls The Laughs Continue
VK: I see it like this. I, maybe not anymore, definitely used to identify with Blanche in my younger days, you know? I'm in a 13 year monogamous relationship with a wonderful man now.
I just think that she's so fun. I think that Blanche like loves being the butt of the joke. She's always in on it. She always pretends to be upset, but she's like, "yeah, I really am. I really am that girl." So I think that's super fun. It's really empowering and I love that. In Blanche's mind, she's just a tragic Southern character. She is this tragic character but just lives such a wonderful fun life.
MI: Did you do anything special to prepare for that Southern charm and vivacious personality that, that she exudes on the show?
VK: Absolutely. I might have been born north of the Mason Dixon line, but I've always felt right at home relying on the kindness of strangers. So I can really relate to that as far as like getting the character.
There are hundreds of Golden Girls parodies out there. There was one here in Detroit that existed long before we did our show and a local actor, a dear friend of mine named Richard, was always Blanche in the productions that were around here.
What's really fun about my interpretation of Blanche is that I'm really just doing an impression of him doing an impression of Rue McClanahan because he just was so over the top. You know, you're really drawing those words out that a normal person would never do. But that's really how I found a lot of my characters. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So with his blessing, I've just really embodied him. It's so fun to keep the Golden-verse going with all of these parodies and interpretations of everyone's friends.
MI: We were there any particular episodes of the show that influence your performance?
VK: There's the famous Rusty Anchor Blanche and her red sequence. It's like the one time where Blanche doesn't get her way, you know. Has her magic worn off? Has her looks gone, has the charm disappeared? Dorothy is getting all the attention and she's just desperately trying.
I really like to do a lot of physical comp and Blanche really wasn't always like the biggest physical comedian, but in that episode, she's climbing on top of the piano, she's falling off of it. Her shoes are flying in the air everywhere. So decided I'm gonna make this a centerfold with me. I'm gonna be physical. I'm gonna be rolling around on the floor. I'm gonna get up, I'm gonna get down. I'm gonna have a good time!
MI: Can you talk about the importance of drag culture in reimagining a classic like this like golden girls?
VK: One of my new go to phrases is sometimes it takes big feet to fill iconic shoes. So I, you know, could this production be done with four women? No, not the way that we've done it. Our companies an LGBTQ owned and operated thing and that's what we set out to do. We wanted to create. Gay men can say a line differently than a woman and get away with it and add a little different flair to that line. Even some of the iconic golden girls tags said through the lens of a drag queen puts on a whole different spin.
Do I think that women could do amazing impersonations of the Golden Girls? I would be the first person in line to see it 100%. But the way that we've crafted this production is that you're here for a funny little Rupaul's musical episode of of silliness. I don't want to make it seem like it is a drag show. You're going out for a night, bring your singles. It's a bachelorette party because it is like a piece of theater. We take it super seriously, but we still want everybody to have a good time.
MI: What's been the most challenging aspect of bringing those characters from TV show to stage?
VK: I think it's the care and respect. Even though we're gay men and we're wearing wigs, we have such respect for these women. It's by no means a slap in the face - which is like a comment that we get on Facebook and social media all the time that it's disrespectful. We love these ladies. So I think a little challenge has been just convincing everyone that it's real, it's serious. It is like a serious approach to come and that we have really worked hard to deliver a love note that I'm sure all four women would just be doubled over with laughter if they were able to experience it with their 100% blessing.
MI: How did you find your passion for acting? And how did you get involved in the theater?
VK: When I was seven years old, the high school in like my community did a community show. It was through the high school, but they would open it up to members of the community. They were doing this Sound of Music and my uncle's girlfriend who is now my aunt, they've been together for 34 years, asked "can I bring Vince to audition?" And my mom was like, "I don't care."
And then I think it was like the third rehearsal and I told my mom I was like seven years old and I was like, "we need to get serious, we need to. No, this isn't enough. Why aren't I in dance class? Why aren't I having voice lessons? Like, why are you trying to do me dirty? Like, you gotta sign me up."
And since then I've just been obnoxious. I did theater all throughout elementary and junior high high school. As soon as I graduated high school, I went to New York. I went to a conservatory and then got my degree and then I hit the road and started touring and then I toured some national tours for a while.
And then I met a boy and settled down. I started teaching, working with schools, and was performing locally around but nothing serious. And then this opportunity came and here I am about to hit the road on a 26 week tour, which is crazy. I really thought that I was done. I thought that I was good. I'm having so much fun here and I love my students and I love my school.
But this was such a good opportunity but I couldn't pass it up.
MI: You're in Chicago for most of February for this show. Is there anything on your top things to do while in the Windy City?
Vince Kelley; credit: Vince Kelley Instagram
VK: We're really excited about Sidetrack Mondays. Even though Mondays are our only day off.
We're all really from Detroit, which is insane that we were able to find the right people or month. We've all been there; so we're just excited to sit down, have some deep dish pizza, get those hot dogs and do our little checklist. We're just really excited to experience the city.
Obviously, Boystown is going to be super fun. We haven't been to a theater town, you know what I mean? No disrespect to Los Angeles or any of the fabulous cities that we've been to. But Chicago is like the birthplace of a lot of amazing theater. It's so cool to be able to sit down in a town that isn't just here to see like a Golden Girls parody and have like a little fun girls night out. Obviously, we want that. But like, there's gonna be people who are like, oh my God, like they did it - like this set is amazing!
We're just so excited to experience a city who's gonna really appreciate the show for all the hard work that we put into it.
MI: What's been the most rewarding part of playing Blanche in this adaptation?
VK: I love being able to be on stage with these actors as Blanche because we all have just sunk into our personalities so much. It's just makes us such a lovely transition between on stage and off.
And I think it's really fun when a straight man who didn't want to come to the show that evening and has been dragged there by his wife. And then we do the meet and greets after the show and the guy is like, "I wanna sit by Blanche" or "I want blanche to come sit in my lap". I'm like, "thank you daddy." I think that that is really fun because I know he didn't want to be there and then somehow Blanche, through me, has convinced him that he's having a good time tonight. So I think that that's super fun and unexpected.
MI: Thanks Vince! See you when the show opens here in Chicago on February 6th!
For more information and tour dates visit www.goldengirlstour.com.
Individual tickets for the parody, GOLDEN GIRLS: THE LAUGHS CONTINUE are on sale now and range from $30.00 to $85.00 with a select number of premium tickets available. Add-on tickets for a meet and greet with cast members available for $50.00 (show ticket purchase for the same performance date/time required). Tickets are available now for groups of 10 or more by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710. For more information, visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com.