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‘Girls Night: The Musical’ takes the CFA out for a fun night at a bar

girlsnight

Four girls walk into a bar – followed by an angel.

It’s not a cliché joke, but the premise of the off-Broadway production of “Girls Night: The Musical,” which showed at the Center for the Arts’ Mainstage Theater Friday.

Crowds of women with drinks in hand entered the theater to enjoy a girls night out. The packed audience eagerly awaited the production, which filled the theater with the sound of iconic ’80s and ’90s music as the four female characters set out to have a good time at a karaoke bar. The musical was written by Louise Roche and directed by Sonya Carter.

Four girlfriends, Anita (Kelly Higgins), Liza (Sarah Robinson), Kate (Katie Campbell), and Carol (Jillian Soares) were unknowingly accompanied by their late best friend, Sharon (Dina Desmone), as an angel.

Sharon narrates most of the play’s events to keep the audience engaged and involved; she is the only character to directly talk to the audience throughout the performance.

Each of the four women struggles with an aspect of her personal life, often dealing with problems in their marriages. The first act fleshes out the four main characters.

The audience learns that Anita was teased a lot in school, is married and has a problem with prescription drugs; Liza married rich and has three kids; Kate is a school teacher and typically the designated driver on nights such as this; Carol is Kate’s older sister and has been married twice. Sharon had a baby at the age of 16 and died shortly after in a moped accident.

As an angel, Sharon introduces the play’s other characters and describes their personal struggles to the audience.

Hit songs from the ’80s and ’90s were used to express the women’s feelings during their drunken night out at the bar. “At Seventeen” by Janis Ian, “Holding Out for a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler and Dean Pitchford and “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls were just a few on the list.

“The songs were my favorite part,” said Lisa Jones of Buffalo. “It took me back and I just wanted to get up and dance the whole time.”

Higgins captivated the audience when her character, Anita, poured her soul into the music. Her rendition of “The Love of My Man” by Theola Kilgore expressed her husband’s devotion to her and stole the show.

Ann Schmidt of Tonawanda felt the song was both “captivating” and “breath-taking.”

The audience was primarily composed of groups of middle-aged women, but there was the rare man in attendance as well. Tom Bolton of Snyder was one of the few.

“I came with my wife,” Bolton said. “It wasn’t quite what I had expected but we had a really good time.”

Like Jones, he also enjoyed the familiar music and how engaging the show was.

There was minimal dancing and very few props involved in the production. Aside from a microphone stand, bar stools and a couple of tables, the only other props were pink feather boas and an inflatable sex doll.

The dancing could be described as synchronized arm motions. Even though it was not very elaborate, the simplicity was appreciated.

“It made [the scenes] more real, like we were actually in a karaoke bar,” Schmidt said.

Act two opened up with Kate as the life of the party, dancing with the inflatable sex doll and nearly falling off the stage – her performance set the tone for the entire act.

Other developments included a surprise pregnancy announcement from Liza, a verbal sparring between Kate and Carol and a revealed cheating scandal. All the while, Sharon, as their heavenly overseer, is filling the audience in on all of the details.

When things look like they might fall apart between friends, laughter ensues and all is made right between the girls.

Five girlfriends go through their night, getting drunk, singing their favorite songs, fighting and laughing, while the audience is laughing along with them the entire time. Though the show was a comedy, it still ended aiming to teach the audience a lesson.

As Sharon pointed out during the finale, friends are the most important things you can have in life. Pick carefully.

Rebecca Vincent is an arts staff writer and can be reached at arts@ubspectrum.com


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