Girl’s Night: The Musical may be one of the most awkwardly conceived and crassly written revues to come along in quite some time. And yet, none of the women in the audience seemed to be applying such critical standards to the show, directed by Jack Randle, at a recent press performance. Similarly, no one seemed to mind that most of the characters are really just caricatures.
In the piece, a quartet of women prepare to celebrate an unseen woman’s engagement at a karaoke bar. Theatergoers are told pretty much all they need to know about each member of this group by Sharon (Renée Colvert), the honoree’s dead mother clad in sequined white pseudo-biker gear and a pair of angel wings (costumes by Karl Ruckdeschel), who hangs around the proceedings throughout. Sharon serves as the piece’s narrator, relating seemingly endless backstory. This conceit from bookwriter Louise Roche, whose original script has been adapted by Betsy Kelso, gives the show an unbearable static quality as the number of “and then there was the time we…” reminiscences mount.
Sharon’s memories — about everything from the gang’s high school antics to the women’s disastrous marriages (which she’s presumably witnessed from beyond the grave) — serve as song cues, and it’s when the performers begin to sing that the women in the audience go wild, jumping to their feet and dancing to tunes like “I Will Survive” and “It’s Raining Men.” When Carly Sakolove performs “Don’t Cry Out Loud,” the audience joins in, heartfeltly wailing along seemingly remembering the moments in which Peter Allen and Carole Bayer Sager’s tune served as their own theme song.
Renditions like Sakolove’s are ultimately the saving grace of Girls, which makes Anita (Justine Hall), an emotionally challenged woman, look ridiculous and trades in clichés: good-girl Kate (Laurie Gardner) gets exceedingly drunk and all her schoolmarm propriety disappears. Hall’s take on a disco incarnation of Jerry Herman’s “I Am What I Am” rocks and Yvette Monique Clark’s vocals for “Survive” and “Raining” dazzle. Before demonstrating her care with the ballad “Cry,” Sakolove leads the group in a rousing “Holding Out for a Hero.”
In between these songs — which also include a few clunkers like Gardner’s “Cry Me a River” delivered as her character is falling-down drunk — the women bicker and trade off-color jokes. One describes an engagement as “two people coming together.” To which Liza (Clark) saucily replies “Now that has never happened to me!” An inflatable guy sex doll makes a cameo, and there’s talk about the glowing penis headbands someone’s brought as party favors. While the gags are met with laughter, the women’s observations about sagging breasts and other aging issues invoke empathetic murmurs from theatergoers, a testament to the honesty that’s buried within Girls Night.