Of housewives & schoolgirls
Chico Cabaret unveils a raucous musical, while The Blue Room lets its schoolgirls run wild
Four women dressed in tight black outfits adorned with feathers, chains and handcuffs are huddled around their accompanist at an old upright piano. They are perfecting the vocal parts of a song called “Generic Woman” for the upcoming production of the musical comedy Angry Housewives, opening soon at The Chico Cabaret. The song they rehearse suggests the odd, seemingly incongruous influences of The Supremes and Lou Reed.
“Last summer, Sue and I saw this [show] in Nevada City,” says director Phil Ruttenburg, explaining why he and his spouse chose to produce Angry Housewives. “And we loved it! The place was totally packed! And we thought, ‘Someday, we’ll do this.'”
When asked what specifically drew him to this show, Ruttenburg replies, “The whole concept of these four, modern housewives basically going punk! That’s the whole fun of the show. There’s a pretty good storyline, there’s some really fun characters. … Like Lewd Fingers [Brian Holderman, who also choreographed this production], who’s the owner of the punk rock club, is just a fun role. He’s basically a middle-aged hippie looking for something to do.”
Essentially, the story follows the mutual plight of four women. Wendi (Geri Mahood) tends a drawbridge by day and her boyfriend, Wallace (Marc Edson), by night; Jetta (Jeri Campos) is married to Larry (Steven Bowman), a demanding, up-and-coming lawyer who expects his dinner on the table at the same time every night; Carol (Debbie DiPasqua) is a widow and high school teacher; and Bev (Judi Souza) is the recently widowed, struggling mother of a green-haired, guitar-thrashing teenager called Tim (Jordan Lunt).
Bev’s having a tough time making ends meet, so she sells—or rather attempts to sell—Mary Kay-type cosmetics on the side to her friends. When Tim mentions a $2,000 cash prize for best band at a punk rock club’s upcoming competition, Bev and her chums get busy.
I caught a rehearsal last Sunday night. And while bits of the show had yet to be choreographed, the tunes and the characters were still very amusing. My favorite moment was the ladies punked-out and screeching “Eat Your Frickin’ Corn Flakes!”
Angry Housewives opens Friday, Oct. 19, at 7:30 p.m. The cost is $12, and seating begins at 7 p.m. Dinner is available at 6:15 p.m. by reservation only for $22; a special Sunday brunch occurs Oct. 28 at 11:45 a.m. For more information, call The Chico Cabaret at 895-0245. This show is recommended for mature audiences.
Meanwhile, over at The Blue Room, last Friday witnessed the unleashing of the extremely funny and occasionally poignant Catholic School Girls, written by Casey Kurtti and directed by Blue Room resident visual designer Amber Miller.
The story depicts the trials and tribulations of four girls attending Catholic school during the ‘60s. We follow Elizabeth (Betty Burns), Wanda (Alice Wiley-Pickett), Maria Theresa (Samantha Perry) and Colleen (Jocelyn Stringer) from the Kennedy assassination through The Beatles and on to the sexual revolution. The actors do terrific work as the girls and are also adept at portraying the various nuns who teach them (Stringer came off a trifle weak here last Friday). The set is appropriately bland, the costumes accurate, and the lighting and sound fairly flawless.
If there is a standout performer, it is Betty Burns; ultimately, this is Elizabeth’s story. And it is as horrific as it is humorous.